Man repeatedly molested, harassed wife amid divorce proceedings, gets jail and fine

Man repeatedly molested, harassed wife amid divorce proceedings, gets jail and fine

Abuse file photo
Photo illustration of a woman being physically abused. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: With divorce proceedings underway and protection orders granted to his wife, a man molested his spouse multiple times, and also threatened their daughter and alarmed their other children.

The 48-year-old man, who cannot be named due to gag orders protecting the victims' identities, was sentenced on Monday (Nov 25) to about 10 months' jail and fined S$5,000.

He had pleaded guilty to nine charges including outrage of modesty and offences under the Women's Charter and Protection from Harassment Act.

Another 28 charges were taken into consideration.

The court heard that the jobless man has three teenage children with his then-wife, a 46-year-old woman.

In late September 2017, the woman filed for a personal protection order for herself and her three children, to shield them from her husband as he had previously displayed violent tendencies towards her, especially when intoxicated.

"He would also forcefully touch her even when she refused his advances and asked him to stop," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Kathy Chu.

She was granted an expedited order, which restrained her husband from using family violence against her and their children.

HE MOLESTED HER DESPITE COURT ORDER

However, the man went back to his old ways on Oct 2, 2017, when he returned home after drinking, heavily intoxicated and reeking of alcohol.

He went to his then-wife and harassed her, following her into the kitchen even though she warned that she would call the police, and groped her buttocks.

He also hugged and kissed her, the court heard. The woman called the police that night, but her husband continued touching her forcefully despite her warnings for him to stop.

Before the police arrived, she called again minutes later pleading for them to come down. By the time they did, her husband had left the house.

Four days after this incident, the woman obtained a personal protection order against him, protecting herself and her children. She also obtained a domestic exclusion order, which dictated that her husband could not enter her bedroom in their home.

They began divorce proceedings some months later in early 2018, and their divorce was finalised on Jul 2, 2019.

While these proceedings were ongoing, the man again harassed his wife despite the orders obtained against him.

On Apr 9, 2018, the man returned home drunk and could not open the gate. He later shouted: "My wife is having an affair" and "she's sleeping with another man".

His wife told him to lower his voice and opened the gate for him, but he repeatedly shouted the same phrases at her once he stepped into their home.

She called the police again, and her husband once more left the house after she did so.

His actions continued to escalate - on May 20, 2018, he entered his wife's bedroom and started touching her feet before hitting her buttock with his hand.

The woman shouted at him to go away, but he climbed on top of her and tried to kiss her.

She yelled at him and struggled to push him away, and he stood beside her bed, pulling at her hand. Two of their children saw this happening.

The woman called the police again.

ESCALATED INTO VIOLENCE

The man's behaviour escalated into violence on Aug 10, 2018, when his wife was home with her two daughters.

The man was sleeping in the living room at about 11pm. When the TV was turned on, he began screaming, shouting and kicking the dining chairs.

He pushed containers and vegetables off the kitchen top onto the floor, and grabbed a plastic container when his wife asked him where an iPad was.

He gestured the container at her, and the woman cowered down, thinking he was going to hit her, and covered her head with both hands.

He then grabbed the TV remote controller and gestured it at their younger daughter, shouting that she was the cause of the problem.

When the man heard a hint that his wife might call the police again, he dashed out of the house and tried to jump over the parapet, alarming his wife and three kids.

Together, they restrained him and took him back into the house, but he again left before police arrived.

The prosecution asked for at least 11 months' jail, pointing out that the man had attempted to evade arrest.

ACTION SHOULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN EARLIER: DEFENCE

The man's defence lawyer said the victim had sought protection from the police, but "no action was taken".

"You're saying your client should have been charged earlier," said the judge.

The defence counsel agreed, and said he wished that the prosecution and police "had intervened at an earlier stage".

If he had been charged earlier, he could have been fined, and jailed if he reoffended. This would save a lot of trouble for the police and the victim, said the lawyer.

In response, Deputy Public Prosecutor Kathy Chu said the wife should expect to be protected under the court orders, "that the accused blatantly disregarded".

"I must highlight that the accused knew he was under investigation with each police report and police call made, and it's speculative that he would not have offended, or reoffended, or continued his harassment had (he) been charged at an earlier point in time," she said.

"Surely the accused must take responsibility for his own actions."

District Judge Marvin Bay said the "disturbing facts of the case" showed "a perverse and sustained victimisation" of the man's wife, even after she had obtained an expedited protection order from the family courts for herself and their children. 

"You have also menaced your children by threatening violence against them," he said. "While the prosecution has proceeded with nine charges, I do note that your course of offending amounted to no fewer than 37 charges spanning from October 2017 to August 2018."

He said the man exhibited "a complete and callous disregard for the emotional and mental well-being" of his wife and children, with his offences causing considerable trauma to his family.

Source: CNA/ll(mn)

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