Two years and two months' jail for cleaner at hospital who molested paralysed patient

SINGAPORE - A cleaner at a hospital who molested a completely paralysed female patient was sentenced to two years and two months' jail in court on Friday (April 22).

The 56-year-old Singaporean pleaded guilty to a molestation charge on March 23 and had his jail sentence backdated to Oct 22 last year.

Details about the hospital and the patient cannot be disclosed due to a gag order. The Straits Times is not identifying the man as doing so could reveal the hospital's name.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Jun Chong told the court previously that the cleaner was mopping the hospital floor on April 27 last year when he spotted the paralysed woman lying on a bed with the top two buttons of her pyjamas unfastened. He then molested her.

A nurse was at a nearby bed at the time, attending to another patient behind cubicle curtains.

After she was done, she opened the curtains and saw the man touching the woman.

The DPP said: "The complainant was shocked and shouted 'What are you doing?' at him. The accused seemed surprised and removed his right hand from her pyjamas without saying anything. He left the ward to continue his work

"The complainant approached the victim and asked her if she was okay... When the complainant asked if the accused had touched her breast, the victim blinked three times, which the complainant understood to mean 'yes' as it was their method of communication."

After buttoning up the woman's pyjamas, the nurse told her supervisor about the incident and the police were alerted at around 1.20pm the next day.

The offender told police that he molested the woman because he had not taken his medication and "heard voices" telling him to touch her.

Though the victim was functionally dependent and non-communicative, DPP Ng said she was aware of what he did but was powerless to resist and unable to seek help.

While the offender was in remand, a psychiatrist from the Institute of Mental Health found that even though he has schizophrenia, he had not relapsed at the time of the offence.

For molestation, the offender could have been jailed for up to two years, fined, or caned, or sentenced to any combination of these punishments. The maximum sentence can be doubled for crimes against vulnerable victims.

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