Prosecution appeals against probation for undergrad who molested woman, seeks at least 3 weeks' jail

Terence Siow Kai Yuan was sentenced to 21 months' supervised probation in 2019 by a district judge, who said his academic results show that he has the "potential to excel in life". PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Prosecutors on Tuesday (March 10) appealed for an undergraduate to be jailed at least three weeks for molesting a woman at an MRT station.

They argued that there was no link between his good academic performance and his propensity to reform.

Terence Siow Kai Yuan, 24, was sentenced to 21 months' supervised probation last year by a district judge, who said his academic results show that he has the "potential to excel in life".

On Tuesday, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who heard the prosecution's appeal, said the dichotomy between Siow's persona as an academic achiever and his "parallel" life as a pornography addict and sex offender, was "worrying".

"It's not clear to me that the judge completely considered these aspects of the case," he said.

CJ Menon will deliberate on the case and give his decision at a later date.

Siow, an applied mathematics student at the National University of Singapore, was given probation in September last year after he pleaded guilty to one charge of outrage of modesty.

Two similar charges were taken into consideration.

He was 22 when he committed the offences against a 28-year-old woman during a train ride on the North East Line and at Serangoon MRT station on Sept 12, 2018.

Siow sat next to the woman and touched her thigh. She moved away from him but he touched her again.

He followed her when she alighted and touched her buttocks while he stood behind her on the escalator.

When she turned around and shouted at him, he fled the scene.

She pointed Siow out to a station officer and later made a police report.

The district judge, in rejecting the prosecution's call for a custodial sentence, noted that Siow's offences were "minor intrusions".

She also noted his academic results, saying "there can be no doubt that there is extremely strong propensity for reform".

On Tuesday, CJ Menon said he accepted that Siow's offences were not so serious that probation should be ruled out.

However, he said Siow still has to cross the legal threshold of showing "extremely strong propensity for reform".

CJ Menon also noted that the district judge saw Siow as a person who was capable of contributing to society but took a wrong turn and should be put back on the path he was on.

But Deputy Public Prosecutor Kristy Tan argued that the two aspects of Siow's life - his sexual offending and his outwardly respectable life - were not mutually incompatible.

She argued that Siow has always been an academic achiever, but that has not stopped him from pursuing a "parallel" track of offending behaviour.

The DPP said it was difficult to see a link between good academic results and propensity to reform.

"A good dose of deterrence may be the change maker in this case," she said.

Siow's lawyer Raphael Louis said his client was making efforts to change.

Siow has gone for counselling to address his pornography addiction, stopped consuming pornography and is trying to maintain gainful employment, said the lawyer.

Mr Louis added that Siow was willing to be monitored by his parents and probation officer.

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