Man gets 11½ years' jail and 12 strokes of cane for violent attack on woman he followed into HDB lift

SINGAPORE - Five days after she arrived in Singapore, a woman from China was physically and sexually attacked by a stranger who followed her into a Housing Board lift and grabbed her the moment the doors closed.

During her seven-minute ordeal, the 32-year-old woman tried to crawl out when the doors opened on the sixth floor but was overpowered by her assailant, who pulled her hair with such force that clumps of it were later found on the lift landing.

When she tried to make a run for it on the 14th floor, he blocked her and forced her to perform oral sex on him at the lift lobby.

On Tuesday (March 24), the assailant, Mohammad Fadil Othman, 35, was sentenced to 11½ years in jail and 12 strokes of the cane after he pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated sexual assault by penetration.

The victim, who worked as a singer, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the violent attack. She cannot be named due to a gag order to protect her identity.

The High Court heard that in early hours of April 20 last year, Fadil was loitering around North Bridge Road when he saw the victim walk past alone.

He admitted in court that he found her to be "attractive and sexy" and formed the intention to have sex with her.

He also thought that she would not be able to identify him as she appeared to be drunk.

Fadil followed her into the lift at her block at about 3.20am after checking that there was no one around.

She pressed the button for the 10th floor to get home and he randomly pressed the button for the sixth floor.

After he grabbed her when the doors closed, she struggled and begged him not to touch her.

But Fadil admitted that the more she resisted, the more he felt he had to touch her.

As she tried to crawl out on the sixth floor, he hit her, pulled her hair forcibly and choked her by the neck.

When she started to cry, he exposed himself, but she resisted his attempt to make her perform oral sex on him.

Fadil then pushed her back into the lift, held her against the wall and pressed the button for the 14th floor.

She continued to struggle and he put his hand over her mouth to stop her from screaming.

After he blocked her escape on the 14th floor, she knelt down in a corner of the lift lobby and begged him to let her go.

But he forced her to perform oral sex on him for five minutes.

After the assault, he put his finger to his lips to indicate that she should not report the matter to the police, and then fled the scene.

She took the lift to the first floor and called her friend, who told her he would take her to make a police report. They later ran into police officers at the void deck.

Fadil's actions inside the lift were captured on surveillance footage.

He was arrested at 9.30pm the same day.

According to a psychiatric report in August last year, the victim suffered from fear, anxiety, hyper-vigilance, sleeping difficulties and recurrent nightmares as a result of the assault.

She was referred for therapy and started on anti-depressant medication.

"The accused's seven minutes of sexual gratification will haunt the victim for an immeasurably longer time," Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Lim said as sought at least 12 years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane.

Defence counsel Chong Xin Yi sought nine years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane, saying that Fadil's actions were not premeditated and he was sincerely remorseful.

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