Trio on trial for rape plead guilty to less serious sex offence

Michael Le (left) and Khong Tam Thanh are two of the three men who admitted to outraging a Malaysian woman's modesty by having sex with her while wrongfully restraining her on Sept 10 last year. It was not mentioned in court why the charges were redu
Michael Le (above) and Khong Tam Thanh are two of the three men who admitted to outraging a Malaysian woman's modesty by having sex with her while wrongfully restraining her on Sept 10 last year. It was not mentioned in court why the charges were reduced, in what appears to be a plea deal.ST PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW
Michael Le (left) and Khong Tam Thanh are two of the three men who admitted to outraging a Malaysian woman's modesty by having sex with her while wrongfully restraining her on Sept 10 last year. It was not mentioned in court why the charges were redu
Michael Le and Khong Tam Thanh (above) are two of the three men who admitted to outraging a Malaysian woman's modesty by having sex with her while wrongfully restraining her on Sept 10 last year. It was not mentioned in court why the charges were reduced, in what appears to be a plea deal.ST PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW

Three British nationals who went on trial two weeks ago for taking turns to rape a Malaysian woman in Carlton Hotel pleaded guilty to aggravated molestation yesterday after taking a week to consider the reduced charges.

Khong Tam Thanh, 22; Vu Thai Son, 24; and Michael Le, 24; admitted to outraging the woman's modesty by having sex with her while wrongfully restraining her in the early hours of Sept 10 last year.

Thanh and Son also each admitted to a second charge of outrage of modesty by committing another sexual act on the woman, who was then 22 years old.

They are expected to be sentenced today. The punishment for aggravated molestation is between two and 10 years in jail, and caning.

It was not mentioned in court why the charges were reduced, in what appears to be a plea deal.

The trio, who are of Vietnamese descent, were part of a group of friends who flew to Singapore on Sept 9 to throw a stag party and attend a music festival. They had booked three rooms at the hotel.

On the night they arrived, they went clubbing at Zouk, where one of them, Mr Trinh Viet Anh, 24, struck up a conversation with the woman.

She suggested going to Mr Anh's hotel room, where they had consensual sex, after which she fell asleep.

At about 4am, Mr Anh let Thanh into the room while he left to join the others in another room. One after another, Thanh, Son and Le had sex with the woman.

While Le was having sex with her, she woke up and demanded to know who he was.

She pushed him away and covered herself with a blanket, allegedly telling him that she would never have agreed to have sex with someone as ugly as he.

She confronted Mr Anh when he returned, but he claimed to have no knowledge of what had happened.

She then texted a friend, who picked her up and took her to his flat to rest. She decided to lodge a police report the same day.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor G. Kannan sought six years' jail for Le and seven years' jail for Thanh and Son. "They objectified her, they treated her like a thing to be used and abused," he said.

All three submitted letters apologising to the woman.

In his letter, Thanh offered the woman $5,000. His lawyer, Mr Shashi Nathan, said it was to show his genuine contrition. Thanh had acted in a moment of folly after Mr Anh suggested that he "try his luck" with the woman, he said.

Mr Kalidass Murugaiyan, representing Son, noted that he had come to Singapore not to commit a crime, but for a social purpose.

Mr Ramesh Tiwary, representing Le, highlighted that he was the first to indicate his desire to plead guilty once the charges were amended by the prosecution, which spared the woman from having to testify.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2017, with the headline 'Trio on trial for rape plead guilty to less serious sex offence'. Print Edition | Subscribe