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Co-founder of local food business Beef Bro found guilty of sexually assaulting sister’s drunk friend

SINGAPORE — After going drinking on Christmas Day evening in 2016, a former primary school friend of Norvan Tan En Jie’s sister slept over at the Tans’ home.
Norvan Tan in a file photo taken outside the Supreme Court in September 2020.
Norvan Tan in a file photo taken outside the Supreme Court in September 2020.
  • Norvan Tan En Jie, 27, was convicted of four counts of sexual assault by penetration and outrage of modesty
  • He had targeted his sister’s primary school friend after a night of drinking on Christmas Day in 2016
  • The judge found the victim's accounts to be consistent and corroborated with evidence
  • Tan's semen was found on the back of her T-shirt

SINGAPORE — After going drinking on the evening of Christmas Day in 2016, a former primary school friend of Norvan Tan En Jie’s sister slept over at the Tans' home.

It was then, while the friend was in an intoxicated state, that Tan molested and sexually assaulted her.

On Friday (July 15), the High Court found Tan guilty of four charges of sexual assault and outrage of modesty, following a trial that began in September 2020. The victim cannot be named due to a court order to protect her identity.

In his LinkedIn professional profile online, Tan, now 27, has a hand in a few businesses, including being a co-founder of halal food-and-beverage business Beef Bro, which has several outlets across the island.

WHAT HAPPENED

On the evening of Christmas Day in 2016, Tan’s sister and the victim headed to the former’s flat at about 5am after a night of drinking. The two girls were 19 then.

When they arrived at the flat at about 5.45am, Tan and two of his friends were in his bedroom after a night of drinking.

When Tan’s sister asked him to leave his room because she wanted to speak to one of his friends, he went to the kitchen. He heard the victim vomiting in the toilet there.

He then carried her out of the toilet, placed her on the living room sofa and kissed her on the lips before she eventually went to the toilet to vomit again.

Tan then carried her out of the toilet again and into his sister’s room. It was there where he molested and sexually assaulted her and then left.

When the victim again went to the toilet and while she was vomiting into the toilet bowl, Tan sexually assaulted her again before leaving her in the toilet.

Tan’s sister later went to the toilet and took the victim back to her bedroom to get some sleep.

The morning after the incident, the victim felt a pain in her anus and told some friends of her “confusion and distress” as well as her suspicions that Tan had sexually assaulted her.

The victim also exchanged text messages with Tan’s sister on the phone, and the latter told her that her brother had admitted to having “fingered” the victim.

The victim made a police report the next day and Tan was arrested.

SEMEN FOUND ON T-SHIRT

Delivering his decision, Justice Ang Cheng Hock said that he found the victim’s account of events convincing and also externally consistent with other evidence presented to the court.

He found that the inconsistencies that the defence lawyers highlighted were not material and did not detract from the fact that the victim had been materially consistent on the details of the assault, “right down to details of what she could not remember”.

Her accounts to various parties she had confided in were also consistent.

An analyst from the Health Sciences Authority also gave evidence that Tan’s semen was found on the exterior back of the T-shirt that the victim was wearing during the assault. This corroborated the victim’s account that she was sexually assaulted from the back.

The defence had argued that the semen could have been transferred from the surface of the toilet floor or wall, or from other articles of clothing in the laundry basket where the T-shirt was seized by the police.

Justice Ang found this to be unconvincing. Although Tan testified that he had had sex with his then-girlfriend in the toilet before, which may explain the presence of his semen in the toilet, he did not testify about the last time they had done so. 

He did not explain as well why his semen was on another piece of clothing in the laundry basket. The defence also did not call on any expert who could testify how long semen can remain on surfaces in a form that can be transferred via physical contact, the judge added.

Justice Ang also found the credibility of Tan’s sister “largely impeached” and rejected her oral evidence in court, where she claimed that she had lied while giving her police statement, and that she had lied to the victim when sending the message about Tan’s admission to her of fingering the victim.

Instead, the judge found the evidence in her police statements and her text messages to contain the truth.

During the phone text exchange with Tan's sister, the victim already made known her intention to make a police report, so there could be no reason to explain why the sister would identify Tan as an assailant if she wanted to lie.

Justice Ang also found that the defence could not give any supporting reason for arguing that the sister had framed Tan.

There was “no sensible reason for her to make false accusations against her brother” or any evidence of “strained relationship” between the siblings to support that argument, the judge said.

It was also obvious that she had wanted to help her brother’s defence case and in the process, “recanted” in court the police statements she had earlier made.

ACCOUNT 'CONCOCTED' AS AN AFTERTHOUGHT

Finally, Justice Ang called Tan’s account of the events in his oral evidence an afterthought that was “concocted”.

The judge highlighted that Tan’s police statements had lacked details. Tan had also said in his statement that he could not remember anything beyond what he had already told the police.

In that situation, the judge said that Tan “must have known it did not suffice for him to just deny the accusations” and would have offered as much information as possible, instead of leaving room for speculation.

Justice Ang ordered for the bail amount to be raised to S$75,000 from S$50,000.

Tan will be back in court again on Aug 5 for sentencing.

For sexual assault by penetration, he could be jailed up to 20 years and fined or caned.

Those convicted of molestation can be jailed up to two years, fined, caned, or receive any combination of the three punishments.

Related topics

court crime sexual assault molest Beef Bro drunk drinking sister

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