Man jailed 2 weeks for repeatedly stroking woman's thigh on MRT train

SINGAPORE - Emboldened when a woman did not react to him touching her, a 55-year-old went on to stroke her left thigh for some 20 minutes when he sat next to her on an MRT train.

Thomas Seah Thian Seng, who is unemployed, was jailed for two weeks on Friday (Nov 24) after he admitted using the back of his right hand to stroke the 36-year-old manager's thigh over her clothing repeatedly.

This happened when the east-bound train was travelling from Paya Lebar MRT station towards Tanah Merah at about 11.30pm on June 27, 2017.

Investigation showed that the woman was on board the East-West Line train some time before 11.30pm.

She was seated and was engrossed in reading articles on her mobile phone. Seah was seated to her left and took out a newspaper to read with both hands holding the two bottom edges of the newspaper while rested on his thighs.

He used the back of his hand to touch the victim's left thigh over her dress.

When she did not react, he became "excited" and was tempted to touch her as he found her dress and manner sexy, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Gail Wong.

Seah then moved his hand up and down so that the back of his hand rubbed against her thigh in a stroking manner for 20 to 30 minutes.

The victim realised there was a continuous sensation on the middle of her left thigh. She immediately looked down and saw Seah quickly retracting his hand while holding onto the newspaper.

She confronted him but he pretended that he did not understand her. She repeated her question. Seah claimed that she did not object to it.

She raised her voice in anger and Seah proposed they lodge a report.

When they alighted at Tanah Merah MRT station, he bolted and jumped over the MRT gantry but was detained by the victim and other passers-by.

Seeking at least two weeks' jail, DPP Wong said Seah had a similar conviction in 1994. She said his actions were clearly deliberate and persistent. He touched her by stroking her thigh for 20 to 30 minutes minutes and did not stop until she confronted him.

Pointing out the prevalence of the offence, DPP Wong said police statistics show an increase in such cases by 9.5 per cent for the first half of the year to 717 cases compared with 655 cases for the same period the previous year.

Offences on the MRT, she said, are a threat to public safety, warranting deterrent sentences to assure women commuters that travelling on buses and the MRT is safe and deter opportunistic molesters from committing such offences.

Seah could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined.