GrabCar driver jailed for molesting student

Ng Seng Chye was given 16 months' jail for molesting the victim on Sept 23 last year.
Ng Seng Chye was given 16 months' jail for molesting the victim on Sept 23 last year.

He committed offence after he failed to wake up exhausted 21-year-old at her destination

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

Shocked, she left in a hurry, leaving behind her belongings in the car. When Ng asked for the fare, she threw two $10 bills at him and went home. By then, it was about 6am.

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.

She also told her mother about what had happened and lodged a police report.

Investigations showed that when Ng reached the victim's home, he tried to wake her up but failed. He leaned forward and kissed her on her mouth. As he felt sexually aroused, he exited the car and went to the back seat, where he molested her.

Yesterday, Ng was sentenced to 16 months' jail for molesting the victim between 4.31am and 6.01am on Sept 23 last year.

The court heard that the victim had a particularly draining day on Sept 22, with morning classes and a 90-minute football match.

That evening, she consumed two beers while having dinner with her teammates. She drank another two at Club Kyo after midnight.

At about 4.30am the next day, she booked a GrabCar and was picked up by Ng. She fell asleep shortly after boarding the car.

When she woke up, she found that the car was just outside her home, and Ng was leaning his body against her body, stroking and caressing her.

Arguing for a jail sentence of at least 16 months, DPP Sruthi said Ng had abused his position as a GrabCar driver and had fully exploited the victim's vulnerability.

District Judge Luke Tan admonished Ng, who had initially claimed trial, 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 outrage of modesty, he said. He added that not only was Ng's molestation "highly invasive and repulsive", it was also brazen and offensive.

Ng could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined for the offence. He cannot be caned as he is above 50.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2017, with the headline 'GrabCar driver jailed for molesting student'. Print Edition | Subscribe