Man jailed in August for Covid-19-related offences sentenced to 2 more years' jail for molestation

Sethu Selvaraj had chased after the victim and forcefully hugged her from behind.
Sethu Selvaraj had chased after the victim and forcefully hugged her from behind.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - A man who was sentenced to 13 weeks' jail in August after he unlawfully left his home during the circuit breaker period in April will be spending more time behind bars following his guilty plea to an unrelated molestation charge.

Indian national Sethu Selvaraj, 44, who has completed his earlier jail term over offences under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, was sentenced to two years' jail and two strokes of the cane on Tuesday (Dec 15) for molesting an Indonesian domestic helper.

The Singapore permanent resident was at a Bukit Panjang coffee shop at around 8pm on June 6 last year when he spotted the 37-year-old woman.

She was walking back to her employer's flat in Petir Road when Sethu tried to befriend her.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Shana Poon said: "While he was following the victim, the accused asked her for her name and mobile phone number.

"The victim told the accused her name and that she did not have a mobile phone. She then continued walking back to her employer's residence."

They were at the void deck of a block of flats when Sethu grabbed the helper's right hand and held on to it.

He also used his body to block her from going up a flight of stairs.

The court heard that the woman managed to free herself and run up the stairs.

Undaunted, Sethu chased after the victim and forcefully hugged her from behind on a landing between the first and second storeys.

He continued holding on to her as she struggled to break free, the court heard.

The terrified woman yelled for help and her cries caught the attention of an off-duty police officer who was in the vicinity.

The 34-year-old senior staff sergeant ran up the stairs and saw the pair.

Sethu was arrested after he finally released his grip on the woman.

On Tuesday, District Judge Marvin Bay said: "It is important that foreign domestic workers, a vulnerable class of persons, be adequately protected from sexual exploitation... It was fortuitous that the (police officer) was present (and) was sufficiently situationally aware to find out what was happening and... directly intervene."

For molestation, Sethu could have been jailed for up to 10 years and caned.