Former NUS researcher fined $3,000 for squeezing buttocks of beer promoter

SINGAPORE - A National University of Singapore (NUS) researcher asked a beer promoter to repeat eight times the price of two bottles of beer he had ordered and to move closer to him before he molested her.

Dymkou Siarhei, 39, a Belarusian, was fined $3,000 on Monday (Oct 30) after he admitted to squeezing the buttocks of the 29-year-old woman at a coffee shop in Woodlands at about 6.30pm on July 22.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Zhi Xiang told the court that Siarhei arrived at the coffee shop in the afternoon and started consuming food and alcohol.

At about 6.30pm, he called out to the victim to order two bottles of beer.

As the victim knew that Siarhei was a frequent patron and flirted with beer promoters, she approached him warily, and kept her distance deliberately.

After placing the bottles of beer on his table, she asked for $13.20. He insisted that she move closer towards him, stating that he would otherwise not make payment.

She moved closer to him because she felt that she had no choice. He then asked her to repeat the price of the beer, claiming that he did not hear her the first time.

This went on for some time, as he made her repeat the price to him eight times, and asked her to move even closer towards him.

Eventually, he paid her.

When she was counting the money, he used criminal force by squeezing her buttocks, over her clothing, intending to outrage her modesty.

A few other patrons saw this and reprimanded him. The victim was shocked but did not confront Siarhei as she had to serve other patrons.

DPP Tan said Siarhei was thereafter involved in a commotion with other patrons, and the police were called.

When the police arrived, Siarhei was arrested for molesting the victim.

While being examined at Jurong Police Divisional headquarters, he refused to give his blood sample, and had alcohol on his breath.

DPP Tan had sought at least a $3,000 fine to be imposed. The 19.9 per cent rise in the number of outrage of modesty cases for the first nine months of this year highlighted the need for general deterrence, he said.

He pointed out that there was "persistent harassment" in this case.

Siarhei's lawyer Lim Fung Peen said his client was under tremendous work stress at the time and what he did was "one-off" and "out of character".

"He has been punished enough due to his own folly. He lost his job," said Mr Lim, who asked for the minimum fine of $1,000.

Siarhei had applied for a job in Germany but has since lost it. He had been working in Singapore since 2011 as a research scientist. 

District Judge Lim Tse Haw said that as opposed to a mere slap, Siarhei had squeezed the buttocks of the victim, which was more aggravating.

The maximum penalty for outrage of modesty is two years' jail, a fine and caning.