Defence turns up the heat on officer

Loh Chan Pew was also a former vice-president of Singapore Athletics. The court will rule on his case on Feb 18.
Loh Chan Pew was also a former vice-president of Singapore Athletics. The court will rule on his case on Feb 18.

Drama at trial of former track coach Loh, who is charged with molesting teen athlete

Over three years after veteran track and field coach Loh Siang Piow was first accused of molesting a teenage athlete under his charge in 2013, the trial saw its 27th day in the State Courts yesterday.

But it was not without some courtroom drama, as defence lawyer Lew Chen Chen turned up the heat on investigation officer Goh Teck Heng, who had contacted Loh on July 31, 2016 after a report was filed by the two alleged victims.

While Loh is standing trial for his alleged deeds against one of the two accusers, three more charges involving the other accuser, who was 16 then, were stood down. The two accusers cannot be named due to a court order.

Loh, 75, better known in the sports fraternity as Loh Chan Pew, has been charged with using criminal force on the female athlete when she was 18 by rubbing her genitals on two occasions while massaging the back of her thighs.

Both incidents were said to have happened at the old Tampines Stadium on two Sundays between January and March 17 in 2013.

Last December, Loh said under cross examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Gail Wong that he knew about the allegations through Goh via their phone conversation on July 31, 2016.

But Goh disputed this as he told the court he did not tell Loh the names of the alleged victims over the phone. DPP Wong then told Loh he knew the identities of the alleged victims before a police interview on Aug 2 that year because he knew what he had done to them.

Loh, a former vice-president of Singapore Athletics, then said he was "jumping hot" and had told Goh to tell him their identities or he would not hang up the phone. He claimed that the officer told him that two girls had made a complaint about him molesting them, and that the latter gave their names at his insistence.

Back on the stand yesterday, Goh told the court he had been briefed on the case on July 30, 2016.

The next morning, he called one of the alleged victims about 10 minutes before his phone call to Loh between 9am and 9.30am. He said that he could not recall the reasons for contacting the alleged victim, but that he "probably" needed to clarify some details.

Goh again denied providing any details about the case or the identity of the alleged victims to Loh during their phone conversation.

When cross-examining Goh, Lew pointed to a text message sent by the second alleged victim on July 31 at 1.10pm to another individual that said both alleged victims had made a police report against Loh.

The message said that while the officer, who was not identified, had said he would not reveal their names, Loh had told the officer he had too many students and the officer had "no choice" but to reveal their names. When asked, Goh denied revealing their names to Loh.

Under cross examination, Goh revealed he kept a "diary" of his mobile phone calls. While he said he had called the first alleged victim before Loh, the defence claims that the officer called the alleged victim only after speaking to Loh on the phone.

Producing Goh's phone "diary", the defence then asked Goh to read it, with the record reflecting that an outgoing call was made to Loh at 9.24am, followed by a second call to Loh at 9.28am. The call to the first alleged victim was made at 9.33am.

Lew then put it to Goh that he had told the first accuser during the call that her name "has been leaked", which Goh disagreed with.

"Did you tell Mr Loh the name of the complainant?" asked Lew, to which Goh denied.

The defence lawyer pressed on, saying: "Did you tell him the nature of the complaint? I put it to you that you are not telling the truth."

"I disagree," said Goh.

Asked to explain why he needed to call the first alleged victim immediately after speaking to Loh, Goh added that he had "no idea and it could be that she's looking for me, but I cannot remember".

Two witnesses were also called by the prosecution for rebuttal earlier in the day.

The first round of submissions by both parties has been set for Jan 3 next year, with the case to return to court for ruling on Feb 18.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2019, with the headline 'Defence turns up the heat on officer'. Print Edition | Subscribe