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Singapore

Former taxi driver convicted of molesting 13-year-old boy while pretending to help him with seat belt

Former taxi driver convicted of molesting 13-year-old boy while pretending to help him with seat belt

File photo of the State Courts in Singapore. (Photo: Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: A 58-year-old man was found guilty on Thursday (Mar 25) of molesting a 13-year-old boy in his taxi, on the pretext of helping him with his seat belt.

Chew Lye Beng was convicted of one charge of using criminal force on a minor to outrage his modesty in his taxi on Jul 21, 2017.

The victim had boarded Chew's cab with a friend that afternoon for a ride home. Chew asked the victim, whose identity is protected by gag order, to sit next to him in the front seat.

Throughout the journey, Chew chatted with the teenager and pinched his cheeks. When they got to his condominium, Chew leaned over to help the boy with his seat belt and molested him, the court documents said.

The boy was shocked and did not know how to react. He told his friend when they alighted that Chew had touched his bottom area.

According to court documents, Chew also asked the boy to show him where the toilet was, asking the victim's friend to wait. Chew then asked the victim to go into the toilet with him, but the victim was scared and ran away.

At his home, the victim took a penknife before returning to school with his friend. When his mother saw it, she asked him why he took the penknife and he replied: "Mummy, this one is for self-defence".

He later told his mother and teachers what had happened.

The judge found the victim's testimony to be clear and coherent, noting that the encounter caused him and his friend to arm themselves with a penknife before heading back to school.

The victim's friend also corroborated evidence on how Chew had asked the boy personal questions during the taxi ride, and noticed the victim's shocked face at their destination.

In contrast, the judge did not find Chew a credible witness and found him evasive, with overly elaborate explanations.

The prosecution had called the defence's case "convoluted and bizarre". Chew had claimed that he touched the victim in an attempt to help him with a defective seat belt, and said it was not possible to molest the boy as the boy's phone was on his groin.

Chew said he was being "friendly", "concerned" and "fatherly" in patting the victim's head and asking him to enter the toilet with him.

Chew will return to court for mitigation and sentencing next month. For molesting a minor, he could be jailed for up to five years and fined. He cannot be caned as he is above 50.

Source: CNA/ll(aj)

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