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The Prive Group CEO admits to punching 13-year-old boy, asking him lewd questions

The Prive Group CEO admits to punching 13-year-old boy, asking him lewd questions

Jean-Luc Kha Vu Han outside the State Courts on Oct 21, 2021. (Photo: TODAY/Ili Nadhirah Mansor)

SINGAPORE: While intoxicated, the chief executive officer of food and beverage group The Prive Group asked a teenager a lewd question before punching him.

French national Jean-Luc Kha Vu Han, 44, pleaded guilty on Thursday (Oct 21) to a charge each of voluntarily causing hurt and intentionally causing alarm.

The court heard that the victim, a 13-year-old boy, was with his 12-year-old brother in their father's office at Parklane Shopping Mall on Nov 22, 2019 when they decided to head downstairs for dinner.

They took the lift down from the 10th storey, and it opened at the fifth storey where Vu Han entered with his friend, a 41-year-old man.

After entering the lift, Vu Han, who was intoxicated from drinking earlier, asked the victim a question about his private parts.

The victim replied negatively, and Vu Han asked if the victim wanted to see his. The victim replied no again, and Vu Han responded that he could arrange a sex act for him.

Alarmed by the insults, the 13-year-old boy again said "no".

Suddenly, Vu Han punched the boy on his temple, causing him to fall backwards and slam his arm on the elevator's handrails. Vu Han then cursed at the victim.

Fearing for his safety, the victim grabbed Vu Han's hands to prevent him from striking again.

Vu Han said, "You want to challenge me?" before asking the boy why he wanted to do so and referencing his private parts again.

When they got to the first floor, Vu Han's friend pushed him out of the lift, but Vu Han refused to leave. He blocked the lift doors with his foot and slapped the victim on his cheek.

A man sitting at a cafe nearby saw what happened and went to help the victim. He detained Vu Han and his friend at the entrance of the mall and called the police.

The victim was seen at a hospital with a 2cm by 2cm bruise over his temple and a 3cm by 3cm erythema or rash over his arm.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Goh Yong Ngee asked for at least eight weeks' jail, saying the psychological harm on the victim was "significant".

According to the victim impact statement taken in November 2020, the boy is still fearful of taking lifts, has flashbacks of the incident and cannot sleep well.

Vu Han had punched the victim in the head, a vulnerable part of his body, and was voluntarily intoxicated at the time.

"The victim was so terrified that he had grabbed the accused's hands, just in the case the accused hit him again," said Mr Goh.

The assault was also witnessed by the victim's younger brother, who was 12, he added.

ACCUSED SEPARATED FROM WIFE, FACED BUSINESS PRESSURE: LAWYER

In mitigation, Vu Han's lawyer Ms Teh Ee-Von asked for a mandatory treatment order suitability report. 

She said her client was facing "unique circumstances" in his life in the period leading up to the offences, separating from his wife and facing pressure from his business.

He was also experiencing "certain uncharacteristic changes in the way his body functioned", and was worried and irritable on the day of the incident, Ms Teh said.

She explained that Vu Han had gone to two KTV lounges that night and was taking the lift with his friend intending to go to the taxi stand.

Vu Han was chatting "about vice activities in KTVs" with his friend when he entered the lift, and thinks that the victim said "something irksome to him".

This "unfortunately triggered something in him" and he reacted "in a disproportionate manner", said Ms Teh.

She said her client went to see a psychiatrist after the incident and was initially diagnosed with adjustment disorder, before going to the Institute of Mental Health where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

She said her client was likely experiencing a manic episode at the time of the offences.

The prosecutor maintained that the attack was unprovoked and that the victim did not say anything to Vu Han. He criticised the medical report the defence relied on, saying the report did not show how the mental condition contributed to the offence.

Vu Han will return to court for mitigation and sentencing in December.

In a statement after the hearing, a spokesperson for The Prive Group said Vu Han is still CEO of the group and "helping us stay afloat amidst the ongoing COVID restrictions".

"Mr Vu Han Jean-Luc Kha remains a valuable member of our management team and has our full and unwavering support. The case is still ongoing and we have been advised not to comment on the case," added the spokesperson. 

Source: CNA/ll(zl)

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