SINGAPORE - A 35-year-old engineer, who molested women using a ruse that he was in pain and needed help, was jailed for eight months on Thursday.
Tan Keng Leng pleaded guilty two charges of outrage of modesty; another count was taken into consideration during sentencing.
The court heard that on Dec 19 last year, Tan saw a 39 year-old woman at White Sands shopping centre and decided to follow her as he found her pretty.
He followed her back to her Pasir Ris condominium and they got into the same lift at about 3.50pm.
The woman pressed the button for the eighth floor while Tan pressed the one for the third floor.
As he was about to exit the lift on the third floor, Tan pretended to fall, inside the lift. He said "ouch" and touched his leg, as if in pain.
The lift doors closed and it continued up to the eighth floor.
Wanting to help him up, the woman took Tan's right hand and placed it over her shoulder.
But as they were exiting the lift, Tan suddenly used his left hand to grab the woman's breast.
Tan had used the same subterfuge earlier.
On Aug 24, 2013, at about 10.40pm, he got into a lift with another woman who was on her way home.
He pressed the button for the fourth floor while the woman pressed the one for the ninth floor.
When the lift reached the fourth floor, Tan suddenly fell down in the lift.
The woman asked if he was all right, and he replied that he had sprained his ankle.
She helped him out of the lift, and offered to help him to a chair near the lift landing.
While they were making their way to the chair, however, she felt his hand on her breast.
When they reached the chair, Tan gripped the middle of her bra.
She shouted for him to let go but he did not do so immediately.
When he sat on the chair, he also pulled the woman to sit on his lap.
She immediately jumped up and rushed back into the lift.
Tan also admitted to the third charge of outrage of modesty, which took place at a fourth floor lift lobby on Oct 2, 2013.
Assistant Public Prosecutor Daniel Marini said Tan's modus operandi, of following women home, was "akin to a predator stalking his prey".
He also said there were aggravating factors in Tan's ruse of pretending to fall and then "exploiting the kindness of his victims".
In sentencing him to eight months' jail, District Judge Lim Tse Haw said: "A stern message has to be sent that such offences cannot be tolerated."
Otherwise, the judge said, fewer people may be inclined to help others, worried that they may be similarly tricked.
Noting that Tan has no previous convictions, and that there was no "excessive violence" used, the judge spared him caning.
For using criminal force to outrage the modesty of a person, Tan could have been jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or received any combination of such punishments.