SINGAPORE - A cleaner was working in a hospital last year when he molested a 42-year-old completely paralysed female patient.
The court heard that even though the woman was functionally dependent and non-communicative, she was aware of what the man was doing to her.
But due to her condition, she was powerless to resist and unable to seek help.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Jun Chong said that the man stopped touching the woman when a nurse yelled out after catching him red-handed.
The 56-year-old Singaporean man pleaded guilty on Wednesday (March 23) to a molestation charge.
Details about the hospital and the patient cannot be disclosed due to a gag order. The Straits Times is also not identifying the man as doing so could reveal the hospital's name.
The court heard that the cleaner was mopping the hospital floor on April 27 last year when he spotted the paralysed woman lying on a bed with the top two buttons of her pyjamas unfastened. He then felt aroused and molested her.
The nurse was at a nearby bed at the time, attending to another patient behind cubicle curtains.
After she was done, she opened the curtains and saw the man touching the woman.
The DPP said: "The complainant was shocked and shouted 'what are you doing' at him. The accused seemed surprised and removed his right hand without saying anything. He left the ward to continue his work.
"The complainant approached the victim and asked her if she was okay... When the complainant asked if the accused had touched her breast, the victim blinked three times, which the complainant understood to mean 'yes' as it was their method of communication."
After buttoning up the woman's pyjamas, the nurse told her supervisor about the incident and the police were alerted at around 1.20pm the next day.
The offender then told police that he had molested the woman because he had not taken his medication and "heard voices" telling him to touch her.
Later that year, a psychiatrist from the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) found that even though the man has schizophrenia, he had not relapsed at the time of the offence.
On Wednesday, DPP Ng urged District Judge Kessler Soh to sentence the man to between 24 and 28 months' jail, stressing that he had targeted a "particularly vulnerable" victim.
Defence lawyer Choo Si Sen said in his mitigation plea that his client has a mental condition and might not have committed the offence if he had taken his medication.
But the judge said that according to IMH, there was no causal link between the man's condition and the offence.
He is expected to be sentenced next month.