SINGAPORE - A businessman was sentenced on Friday (Oct 13) to seven months' jail with three strokes of the cane for molesting and insulting the modesty of a private nurse employed to look after his cancer-stricken wife.
District Judge Mathew Joseph did not mince his words when he chided Indian national Pillai Shyam Kumar Sadashivan, now 47, calling his actions "abhorrent and repugnant".
The judge added: "The victim was a professional nurse looking after your sick wife... (not to) provide non-nursing services, contrary to what you expected. This is Singapore. We have different standards here."
Pillai, who runs a steel trading company in Dubai, initially claimed trial to his offences but decided to plead guilty on the first day of the hearing in August.
He admitted to molesting the then 25-year-old Singaporean nurse and insulting her modesty. A second count of insulting the woman's modesty was taken into consideration during sentencing.
Pillai had come to Singapore with his wife to seek medical treatment.
He committed the offences in their rented apartment near Kent Ridge Park at around 9am on Dec 14 last year, just three days after the private nurse started working there.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Gail Wong said the Singaporean's duties included monitoring the sick woman's vital signs, as well as feeding and bathing her. Other than the couple, no one else was present in the apartment.
On Dec 14 last year, his wife was asleep in her bedroom with the door closed when Pillai invited the nurse to sit with him in the living room, where they had a conversation.
DPP Wong said: "The accused steered the conversation towards sexual matters. The accused stated that he had not had sexual intercourse with his wife for the past months due to her illness and claimed that the girls in Dubai provide extra services. He asked the victim if Singaporean girls are the same.
"The victim understood that the accused was referring to sexual contact and replied that she was a professional nurse and did not do such things."
Pillai then asked the nurse to lift her top. He molested her after she declined.
The nurse continued to take care of his wife after he stopped and even returned to work at the apartment the next day, as she was concerned about the sick woman's health.
But she later alerted the police about her ordeal and stopped going to Pillai's home.
DPP Wong said that as a result of the incident, the traumatised woman had to seek counselling and could not return to her nursing job for a while.
Quoting a counselling report dated Feb 21, DPP Wong added: "She reported experiencing symptoms of depression, including unexplained crying, insomnia, lost or reduced appetite (and a) feeling of worthlessness. Further, she was having flashbacks of the incident."
The prosecution had earlier asked Judge Joseph to sentence Pillai to seven months' jail with three strokes of the cane, stressing that the Indian national had disrespected his vulnerable victim, a professional nurse.
Pillai's lawyer, Mr Mathew Kurian, pleaded for a lenient sentence. He also told the court that his client is diabetic and has high blood pressure.
Pillai is now out on $15,000 bail and will surrender himself at the State Courts on Oct 16 to serve his sentence.
For molesting the nurse, he could have been jailed for up to two years and fined or caned.
And for insulting her modesty, he could have been jailed for up to a year and fined.