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Former Grab driver on trial for attempted rape, sexual assault of 19-year-old passenger

Former Grab driver on trial for attempted rape, sexual assault of 19-year-old passenger

Former Grab driver Tan Yew Sin leaving the High Court on Sep 29, 2020. (Photo: TODAY/Raj Nadarajan)

SINGAPORE: A former Grab driver claimed trial on Tuesday (Sep 29) to sexual assault and attempted rape of a 19-year-old passenger he picked up from a bar two years ago.

Tan Yew Sin, 46, is contesting a charge each of attempted rape, sexual assault and outrage of modesty, which he allegedly committed on the victim in his car.

According to the prosecution, Tan accepted a booking in the early hours of May 19, 2018, to ferry the victim from Wildseed Bar at Seletar Aerospace Park to her home.

Details of the victim's home were redacted from court documents as she is protected by gag order.

The victim had gone to the bar with her friends the night before and drank about five glasses of beer throughout the evening, said the prosecution.

A friend helped her to book a Grab car, and two friends noticed she was tipsy, crying and could not walk straight.

They helped her to the car, and told Tan that the victim was drunk, passing a plastic bag in case she needed to throw up during the journey.

The victim's friend was heard in the in-car camera footage played in court asking the accused to help take her home, thanking him and asking the victim to send a text when she got home.

The victim lay down in the back seat, crying when Tan tried to talk to her, said Deputy Public Prosecutors Muhamad Imaduddien, Chew Xin Ying and Emily Koh.

She fell asleep and was woken up by Tan when they reached her residence. She alighted but could not access the side gate.

TAN LED HER BACK TO CAR WHEN SHE COULD NOT ENTER GATE

Tan, who is married with three children, saw her looking "lost and unsteady", and took her back to his car after she squatted down and began crying.

In statements to the police, Tan said that the victim became agitated while in his car and banged her head on the window while crying.

He went to the back seat to console her, and searched her belongings to find out where she lived and took her phone to call someone to get her.

However, instead of helping her home, he began committing sexual offences on her, kissing her before attempting to rape her, alleged the prosecutors.

According to them, Tan later drove to a more secluded area and began molesting the victim and sexually assaulting her.

He eventually helped the victim back to her residence and drove off.

For reasons unknown, the victim did not go home and was found by another Grab driver at around 4.40am, lying in the middle of the road with her underwear and shorts missing.

He called the police and waited until an ambulance arrived. The paramedic will testify that the victim was crying and kept struggling when she tried to examine her, said the prosecution. Tan's DNA was later found in the victim's underwear.

DEFENCE LIKELY TO ARGUE VICTIM CONSENTED

Defence lawyers Chenthil Kumarasingam and Adeline Goh agree on some facts in the case, including that the victim was crying during the car ride from the bar to her home.

The prosecution will lead evidence from 32 witnesses and tender footage from closed-circuit television cameras and Tan's in-car camera.

The footage shows the victim sobbing throughout the car ride, with Tan repeatedly asking her what happened and if she had just broken up.

In Tan's statements to the police, he admitted that he had not asked the victim for consent, but claimed that she "participated in some of the sexual acts".

The prosecutors said Tan is likely to argue that he believed in good faith that the victim consented to the sexual acts.

However, they said alarm bells ought to have been raised in Tan's mind regarding the victim's behaviour, including her crying, lack of response to his questions, appearing lost and unsteady and that her friend had said she was drunk.

A blood specimen from the victim was later found to contain 26mg per 100ml of blood, with an estimated blood alcohol content at 3am that day in the range of 132.2 to 155.9mg per 100 ml of blood.

The victim's inability to remember events in Tan's car may indicate an alcohol blackout, or that she was in deep sleep from alcohol consumption, said the prosecutors.

A consultant from the Institute of Mental Health will testify that the victim was significantly intoxicated and incapable of giving consent to sexual activity, the prosecution added.

When contacted by CNA, a Grab spokesperson said Tan has been banned from Grab's platform.

"Our users’ safety is important to us and we have zero tolerance for indecent behaviour, harassment or abuse of any kind. Users who have displayed indecent behaviour will be banned from the platform," she said.

The trial continues. If convicted of attempted rape or sexual assault by penetration, Tan could be jailed for up to 20 years, fined, or caned. 

If found guilty of outrage of modesty, he could be jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or given any combination of these punishments.

Source: CNA/ll(ta)

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