Six months' jail for man who molested elderly cleaner after she gave him money to buy food

SINGAPORE - A 46-year-old man has been sentenced to six months' jail for molesting an elderly cleaner after she gave him money to buy food.

Chua Wee Meng pleaded guilty on Monday (April 19) to one count of outraging the 68-year-old woman's modesty.

Another similar charge - involving a different victim - was taken into consideration during sentencing by District Judge Wong Li Tein.

The victim, who was working as a part-time cleaner when Chua committed the offence against her, cannot be named because of a gag order to protect her identity.

The court heard that on June 19 last year, the woman was waiting for the lift at the lobby of a Housing Board block in the Queenstown area.

Chua approached her and asked for $4 to buy food.

She gave him half the amount, which was all she had with her, but he asked for another $2.

He then molested her when she refused. Shocked, she declined Chua's third request for money.

"After the victim arrived home, she felt very scared and did not know whether she should tell anyone about the incident," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Foong Ke Hui.

The woman later informed her daughter about what had happened, and a police report was made.

The court heard that Chua was remanded at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for a forensic psychiatric evaluation from June 22 to July 6 last year.

Citing an IMH report, DPP Foong said Chua suffers from schizophrenia but was aware of the nature and quality of his actions at the time of his offence.

The DPP also referred to another IMH report, which stated that Chua's mental condition would not have affected his ability to understand the severity of his offence or "made him more susceptible to its commission".

In sentencing Chua on Monday, District Judge Wong said the man had committed the offence on an elderly woman who "had demonstrated kindness to him".

The judge also said the amount of fear caused by Chua's act to the woman cannot be understated, noting that the victim was shaken by the offence.

Chua's sentence has been backdated to Feb 1 this year, when he was remanded.

For this offence, Chua could have been jailed for up to two years, or fined, or caned, or sentenced to any combination of such punishments.

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