SINGAPORE: A girl who was allegedly molested by a Grab driver when she was 10 years old testified against him in court on Wednesday (Sep 8).
The girl, now aged 14, took the stand against Lom Mun Hoi, who was the private-hire driver assigned to her when she made a Grab booking on Aug 25, 2017.
Lom is contesting three charges of molestation from two separate incidents. His trial started in July this year.
The girl is the older of the two alleged victims. Lom is alleged to have touched the groin area of the younger girl - then aged seven - over her dress twice within 10 minutes while they were in his car at Tampines Mall on Jun 14, 2017.
Both girls cannot be named due to a court order to protect their identities. Family members and friends giving evidence cannot be named either. On Wednesday, a shield blocked the alleged victim from being seen by Lom at the hearing.
The court heard that the girl was travelling alone with her dog to her friend’s house for a sleepover. The court also heard that it was her first time booking a Grab ride and making a car journey on her own.
THE CAR RIDE
The girl said that Lom stroked her right knee with his left hand twice during the journey, when she was sitting behind the passenger seat. The first incident lasted about 10 seconds, and the second, “a bit longer”, she said. At both times, the car had come to a halt at the traffic light, the court heard.
The court also heard that at those times, the small dog, a maltipoo, was seated in her lap, facing the window on her left, and did not respond to Lom’s hand getting near the girl’s knee.
The girl did not say anything in response to being touched, the court heard.
When asked by Lom’s lawyer Riko Isaac how she felt when she was first touched, she answered: “Scared and awkward.”
When asked if she said anything, she said no, because she “didn’t know what to say”. The girl also said that she is “generally awkward” with strangers, especially with older ones.
In the time between the first and second incidents, Lom also allegedly asked the girl to add herself as his friend on Facebook. The court heard that he opened the app on his phone and handed it to the girl.
When asked why she added herself despite being scared, she said: "I was scared he would do something else."
The court heard that the driver also told her that she had a lot of freedom, and gave her life advice on her family’s situation, after she shared information with him, in response to questions he asked.
At the time, the girl was living with her grandparents, and her parents were separated, the girl said.
Lom also touched her cheek and told her to behave, the court heard.
He also gave her three sweets.
The girl testified that she left the sweets in the lift on the way up to her friend’s home as she was suspicious of them.
“I was scared there’ll be things inside,” she said, adding that it could be things “like poison”.
MAKING A REPORT
The girl’s friend’s mother made a complaint to Grab after finding out what happened, and also informed the girl’s mother. Grab advised that a police report should be made, the court heard.
The court heard that that the girl’s mother made a police report 10 days later. The mother, who also testified on Wednesday, said that the delay was due to her being busy as a single working mother, and also because she was afraid her young daughter would be affected.
The girl's mother testified that to the best of her recollection, the girl did not go to her friend's house for a sleepover, but just for the day, and that it was not “normal” for her to have sleepovers.
She also said that the girl now “stays home more” and is more aware, and afraid of “guys”.
The case is expected to be heard again in November.
If convicted of molesting a minor under 14, Lom could be jailed for up to five years, fined, caned, or receive any combination of the three.