GrabCar driver jailed 16 months for molesting woman who fell asleep in car

GrabCar driver Ng Seng Chye, 64, was sentenced to 16 months' jail for molesting a 21-year-old student.
GrabCar driver Ng Seng Chye, 64, was sentenced to 16 months' jail for molesting a 21-year-old student.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A GrabCar driver molested a 21-year-old student who fell asleep after having had a few beers and an exhausting day of classes and football.

Ng Seng Chye, 64, took advantage of the victim when he could not wake her up, a district court heard on Friday (Nov 24).

She came to only when she felt him leaning against her body, stroking and caressing her.

Shocked, she paid him $20 and left the GrabCar in a hurry, leaving behind some of her belongings, which included a shoe bag and her mobile phone.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana said: "A trip that should have taken just 20 minutes lasted 90 minutes that night, while the victim remained asleep in the car."

The victim became fearful and concerned about what else Ng had done to her. Disoriented and in a state of shock, she called the Grab helpline to get her lost items back.

In her state of distress, she related what had happened to her mother and broke down in tears. She then made a police report.

On Friday, Ng was sentenced to 16 months' jail for kissing the student, touching her breasts, inserting his hand into her jeans and undergarment, and making her touch him.

Investigation showed that the victim had a particularly draining day on Sept 22, 2016, which started in the morning with classes and later a 90-minute football match.

That evening, she consumed two beers while having dinner with her friends. She had two more beers at a club.

At about 4.30am on Sept 23 that year, she booked a GrabCar. Ng picked her up shortly after the booking and was told to drive along East Coast Expressway to her home.

She fell asleep shortly after boarding the GrabCar, said DPP Sruthi.

When she woke up, she found that the car was just outside her home, and Ng was next to her in the back seat. He was leaning on the right side of her body, stroking her upper thigh and caressing her body.

After she left the car and reached home, she noticed it was about 6am.

In court on Friday, DPP Sruthi asked for a jail sentence of at least 16 months, saying that Ng had abused his position as a GrabCar driver and had fully exploited the victim's vulnerability.

She said Ng had also not shown remorse by claiming trial to the charge and pleaded guilty only after the victim completed her testimony and was forced to relive the incident in court last month.

District Judge Luke Tan admonished Ng for having caused great emotional pain to the victim. A strong message had to be sent that users of public transport should be protected against sexual assaults such as the offence of outrage of modesty, especially as brazen and offensive as Ng's, he said.

Not only was Ng's molestation "highly invasive and repulsive", the judge said, he had also breached his trust and violated the young woman in the "most intrusive and offensive way".

In her victim impact statement, the woman stated that the incident made her insecure and ashamed, and that she also suffered a loss of self-esteem.

Ng, whose sentence was backdated to Oct 10, could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined for the offence. He cannot be caned as he is above 50.