Private driving instructor gets jail for molesting student while teaching her
Soh Guan Hup poked the woman's breast while pretending to point at a side mirror.
SINGAPORE: A private driving instructor who molested his student while teaching her how to park was sentenced to six months' jail on Monday (Feb 20).
Soh Guan Hup, 61, had claimed trial and was found guilty of one count of outraging the 25-year-old woman's modesty. He intends to appeal against the conviction.
The court heard that the victim had taken 24 manual driving lessons from Soh in 2017 and 2018.
She would board Soh's car near Bukit Gombak MRT Station and take her lessons near Bukit Batok Driving Centre, including the Lim Chu Kang area.
According to the prosecution, Soh cracked jokes during the lessons. This included one occasion when they were driving towards Lim Chu Kang, when he said he could rape the victim there and no one would know because it was so quiet and dark.
On Mar 3, 2018, Soh was telling the victim how to park while they were on a side road in Choa Chu Kang, when she felt a nudging sensation on the left side of her breast.
She described it as a finger pressed against the side of her breast, "just pressing, pressing, pressing".
She was so affected that she was unable to park the car, and Soh had to grab the steering wheel.
The victim told her then-boyfriend via text messages about what happened, complaining about Soh touching her breasts and thigh during her driving lessons.
A day or so after the prodding incident, the victim told her parents about Soh molesting her. Her father wanted to go to the police, but after the victim's mother tried to obtain more information about the incident from the victim, the victim did not provide more details and chose not to make a police report.
On Mar 8, 2018, before the victim's final driving practice and driving test, she and her boyfriend confronted Soh.
The victim was caught off-guard by Soh's reactions and denials, and her boyfriend took over the confrontation on her behalf.
After this, the victim went for her final driving lesson with Soh and took her test. She paid Soh rental fees for using his car and did not interact with him any further.
In December 2020, the victim confided in a friend about the molestation, and he reminded her that any cases of outrage of modesty can be reported at any point in time. She then reported the case to the police.
In his defence, Soh denied touching the victim. He claimed that he avoided physical contact with the victim when driving because that would create a dangerous driving situation.
He said that any physical contact would have been accidental.
Soh claimed that he taught more than 1,200 students over more than 30 years and had met with very few complaints. The only notable confrontation he had was with a Chinese female student and her "fierce-looking boyfriend" over S$80 registration fees, he said.
The prosecutor sought five to six months' jail, while defence lawyer Bryan Lim Wen Yang asked for not more than five months.
Mr Lim said there was no evidence of substantial physical or psychological harm to the victim, pointing to how the victim had continued with her last driving lesson with Soh.
She also reported the case only 34 months later, said the defence lawyer.
The prosecutor said that the victim explained this in her testimony. She continued with the last driving lesson for practical reasons, as she had taken 24 driving lessons in Soh's car and had to go for the lesson as she needed his car for the test.
The victim reporting the case only 34 months later showed that the incident was weighing on her and bothered her, proving the defence's point of a lack of psychological impact on the victim as incorrect, said the prosecutor.
The judge agreed with the prosecution that Soh abused the trust placed in him as the victim's driving instructor.
He also molested the victim on the pretext of teaching her to park a car, as though he was trying to point at the side view mirror.