Grab driver drove young women to other destinations and made advances on them, gets jail and fine
SINGAPORE: Instead of taking three young women to their destinations, a Grab driver drove around aimlessly before stopping in car parks and a dead end, where he made advances on them.
The encounters, which took place on the same day, frightened one of the victims so much that she stopped taking Grab rides for two weeks and still needs people to accompany her when she uses the ride-hailing service, the court heard.
For four charges of using criminal force and threatening behaviour, as well as possessing a controlled drug, Nigel Lim Guan Yu was sentenced on Monday (Aug 24) to three months and two weeks' jail and a fine of S$8,000. A fifth charge was taken into consideration during sentencing.
A spokesperson for Grab told CNA that it has banned Lim. He was suspended on Feb 3, immediately after the company received the first complaint.
The court heard that Lim, 27, was working as a Grab driver on Feb 3 this year. He picked up the first victim, a 22-year-old social work associate, at Bedok North before 8.45am. She was heading to a flat in Pasir Ris, telling Lim to turn right when they neared the block.
Lim disregarded this, turning left instead and driving into a multi-storey car park at Block 149A, Pasir Ris Street 13.
The woman kept telling Lim to stop so she could alight, but Lim ignored her and drove to the top floor where he collided into a pillar. He alighted to check for damage, and the woman, who was shaken and uninjured, took the chance to leave.
As she fled, Lim shouted at her, asking her to pay in cash and saying he could "show her a good time", said Deputy Public Prosecutor Sean Koh.
PICKED UP SECOND VICTIM AND DROVE IN CIRCLES
Shortly after this, Lim picked up the second victim, a 20-year-old beauty consultant, in Pasir Ris.
She wanted to go to Paya Lebar Square, but noticed soon after boarding the vehicle that Lim was driving in circles in the car park.
Lim told her he needed to collect an item and asked her to move to the front passenger seat, and she complied.
Lim drove his vehicle aimlessly before stopping in another car park. The woman asked Lim to cancel the trip and tried to alight, but Lim grabbed her arm when she opened the door. The woman freed herself and ran out uninjured.
She later told investigators that she cries and feels scared whenever she recalls the incident. The woman did not take a Grab car for two weeks after the incident, needing a friend to accompany her to work and back home for a month after, the court heard.
Shortly after picking up the second woman, Lim targeted a third victim, a 17-year-old girl. She boarded his vehicle in Pasir Ris, wanting to go to Yio Chu Kang Swimming Complex.
DROVE INTO DEAD END
While driving along Ang Mo Kio Street 65, Lim suddenly turned left into the dead end of Ang Mo Kio Street 64.
He told the victim that he was a student at Nanyang Technological University and asked the girl if she was free, as he wanted to take her out and bring her back to his home.
The teenager raised her voice and told Lim to take her to the swimming complex, but Lim stopped his car at the dead end and sat in a daze in his seat.
After this, he drove to Ang Mo Kio Street 63 and stopped his car near the bus depot. Not wanting to have any contact with him, the teen left S$17 on the seat and alighted.
All three victims lodged police reports that day, with the first woman saying her driver was not driving in a straight line, ignoring her instructions to drop her off.
Lim was arrested the next day. A search of his home later uncovered a tablet containing nimetazepam, a Class C controlled drug also known as Erimin-5. Lim admitted buying five such tablets from a supplier known only as Ah Siao in Geylang. He said he took a tablet a week since end-December 2019 to sleep.
PUBLIC CONCERN ABOUT STANDARDS OF PRIVATE-HIRE DRIVERS
The prosecutor asked for three months and two weeks' jail and a fine, saying that ride-hailing through Grab has become a "ubiquitous" mode of transportation in Singapore, and passengers are fully entitled to expect the highest standards of safety from Grab drivers.
"The accused’s behaviour has precipitated public concern about the propriety and standards of private-hire drivers and 'a deterrent sentence is … necessary and appropriate to quell public disquiet and the unease engendered by such crimes'," he said, citing a previous judgment.
While no physical harm was caused, the second victim was traumatised and sustained "significant psychological scars".
The first and third victims were "trapped" in Lim's car "for a significant period and it was not realistic for them to escape a moving vehicle", said Mr Koh.
Lim also disregarded both these victims' intended destinations, drove them to remote places and made threatening comments against the young and vulnerable women, he said.
Lim, who was not represented, asked for leniency and said he was sorry and felt very remorseful about what he did. He said his mother was a single mother and he had a foreign wife, and is currently about to finish his course at the Institute of Technical Education.
For each count of using threatening behaviour, Lim could have been fined up to S$5,000. For using criminal force, he could have been jailed for up to three months, fined up to S$1,500, or both. For possessing a controlled drug, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years, fined up to S$20,000, or both.
A spokesperson for Grab told CNA on Tuesday that it has implemented safety features which passengers can activate when needed. These include functions called Share My Ride, Report a Safety Issue and Request Emergency Assistance.
Passengers can share ride details with their contacts, submit reports on unsafe driving behaviour or serious safety incidents and request for police or ambulance services.
"Our users' safety are important to us and we have zero tolerance for indecent behaviour, harassment or abuse of any kind," added the spokesperson.