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I thought she wanted sex, says ex-Grab driver on trial for attempted rape of passenger

I thought she wanted sex, says ex-Grab driver on trial for attempted rape of passenger

Former Grab driver Tan Yew Sin leaving the High Court on Sep 29, 2020. (Photo: TODAY/Raj Nadarajan)

SINGAPORE: A former Grab driver on trial for sexual assault and attempted rape of an intoxicated passenger testified in a court on Monday (Jul 19) that he thought she wanted sex and that she had initiated a kiss.

Tan Yew Sin, 47, said he was trying to "calm" the 19-year-old woman down by holding her hand in the backseat. He then searched her handbag for her phone but found only her identity card.

As he placed the card back in the bag, he turned around and "next thing I know, we end up kissing", Tan testified.

His defence lawyer previously told the court that the sex acts were "consensual". 

Tan is contesting a charge each of attempted rape, sexual assault and outrage of modesty, which he allegedly committed on the woman in his car.

He had picked her up from a bar at Seletar Aerospace Park in the early hours of May 19, 2018. The teenager had gone to the bar with two friends and drunk about five glasses of beer.

READ: Grab driver attempted rape trial: Victim 'insisted' she did not want me to send her home, says friend who booked the ride

Tan took the stand at the opening of the defence's case on Monday. Under questioning by his lawyer Chenthil Kumarasingam from Withers KhattarWong, he explained how he was a sales manager for an airline. In 2016, he began driving with Grab on weekends to supplement his income.

The alleged offences occurred in the wee hours of May 19, 2018, a Saturday. When Tan started his shift that day, he said he intended to stop at about 3am as he had a parent-teacher conference for his child the next day.

The teenager was his third passenger that night. He said he did not normally ferry drunk passengers as they might make a mess, but said he made an "assessment" as to her level of intoxication.

Tan said he drove the teenager to her home, and she cried intermittently during the journey, but did not respond to his questions.

HE WATCHED TO MAKE SURE SHE GOT HOME SAFELY

He got to her home, drove to her gate and parked his car there. The teenager suddenly opened the door and walked away, he said. He added that he watched her to make sure she got to the side gate safely, saying it was "the decent thing to do" and a "normal courtesy" to make sure she was OK as "she's a girl".

After realising that she was still at the side gate, he got out of his vehicle, placed his hands on her shoulder for "emotional support" and escorted her back to his vehicle, which he said she agreed to.

He said the woman continued sobbing and intermittently thumping herself on her chest with her fist in the back seat, while he sat in the front seat.

Tan said he began going to the back seat three or four times to hold her hand and "calm" her down.

Asked by his lawyer why he was so patient, Tan said: "Actually at this stage I'm getting a bit impatient. I mean, I waited for so long for her to calm down. I'm just trying to be nice and accommodating, and I don't really know how to chase a person out."

READ: Sex acts 'consensual', says lawyer of ex-Grab driver on trial for attempted rape of passenger

He said he decided he needed to find "a solution to end this" and decided to look for her phone to call someone. He went to the back seat and held her hand.

"As I was searching her bag, she rested her head on my shoulder. Then I couldn't find the handphone, but I found her IC in her wallet. So then I took note of the address," said Tan.

"After I put the IC back in the bag, I turned around and next thing I know, we end up kissing."

When his lawyer asked him who initiated the kiss, Tan replied: "Not me."

He said they began kissing and touching each other and claimed the girl removed her underwear and safety shorts. He said he did not think she was intoxicated at this point.

WHAT HAPPENED IN THE BACK SEAT: TAN

"I didn't think she was intoxicated. Yes, her friend did mention she might have a few drinks. Along the way I made my assessment - I listened to the conversation as well as my conversation with her, I really come to the conclusion she's not drunk," said Tan.

He said the teenager straddled him and began "grinding", and that they made eye contact during the encounter. Because she spread her legs, he thought it meant she wanted sex. He added that she pulled him towards her in the back seat.

He then tried penetrating her but was unable to as he did not have an erection, he said. After this, he claimed the teenager performed a sex act on him.

After this, he became "more aware of the surroundings" and told the woman to stop, before shifting the car to the other side of the road.

"At this point of time I was feeling a little bit confused," he said. "On the one hand, I never wanted to have sex yet I found myself in this situation, so yeah, I'm a little bit troubled and it's a lot of mixed emotions."

He added that this was a situation he did not ask or plan for, having sex with a stranger.

"I'm feeling a bit confused, at the same time I'm feeling a bit troubled, because I'm married and I have children and family at home. So those kind of emotions - I'm just feeling all over the place."

He could be heard in in-car camera footage saying: "This wasn't something I was expecting." As he shifted the car, he was cursing to himself, he said.

TAN EXPLAINS HIS EMOTIONS

"Because I'm in this position where - this was not something that I planned for, not something that I wanted to do, but there's also a sense of guilt because I'm trying to have sex with a stranger while my family's at home. There's a lot of mixed emotions. The wife and the children are back home, here I am trying to have sex with someone else."

However, he said he did try again to have sex with her but stopped after he assessed that the teenager was less responsive this time. He drove her back home and then chased after her with a bag of her belongings. He said he found her underwear and safety shorts in his vehicle and handed them back to her as well.

After this, Tan said he drove home and slept. The police called him the next morning about a case of rape and robbery.

Another Grab driver had found the woman lying in the middle of a road at 4.40am. She was not wearing her underwear and shorts. Tan's DNA was later found in her underwear.

The trial continues. If convicted of attempted rape or sexual assault by penetration, Tan could be jailed for up to 20 years, fined, or caned. 

If found guilty of outrage of modesty, he could be jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or given any combination of these punishments.

Source: CNA/ll(ac)

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