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Elderly man jailed 1.5 years for molesting autistic, intellectually disabled woman at lift lobby

SINGAPORE — He lay in wait for a woman at her public housing block’s lift lobby after finding out that she was returning home later that afternoon.

Yeo Choon Chua arrives at the State Courts on June 3, 2022.

Yeo Choon Chua arrives at the State Courts on June 3, 2022.

SINGAPORE — He lay in wait for a woman at her public housing block’s lift lobby after finding out that she was returning home later that afternoon.

Yeo Choon Chua then molested the 28-year-old, who has autism and mild to moderate intellectual disability. He was caught red-handed on video footage captured by a nearby closed-circuit television.

Yeo, now aged 72, was sentenced to one-and-a-half years’ jail on Friday (June 3) after pleading guilty to outraging the modesty of a vulnerable adult.

This included three months’ jail in lieu of six strokes of the cane. Those aged 50 or above cannot be caned under Singapore law.

The court heard that the victim was unable to demonstrate the capacity to consent to any sexual acts, and had difficulty understanding social situations as well as expressing her responses to them. She cannot be named due to a gag order to protect her identity.

On the morning of Sept 17, 2019, Yeo saw her at the void deck and spoke to her briefly. He found out that she was returning home at 4pm that afternoon.

When she exited the lift around 4.15pm, he approached her, hugged her from the front and kissed her several times. He then molested her by touching her private parts for more than a minute.

The victim then proceeded home while Yeo went to a staircase.

The following morning, her older brother lodged a police report on her behalf, saying she had been molested by an unknown subject at the lift lobby.

Yeo was subsequently identified and arrested later that evening.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Bharat Punjabi told the court that Yeo had interacted with her on multiple occasions, including short conversations at the void deck, which meant he ought to reasonably know that she had a mental disability.

The prosecutor, who sought 15 to 24 months’ jail along with up to three months’ jail in place of caning, argued that there was a high degree of sexual exploitation and an element of premeditation.

Senior District Judge Bala Reddy said that the only significant mitigating factor was that Yeo had pleaded guilty and spared the victim the ordeal of testifying against him.

Yeo’s defence counsel Lieu Chier Hion told the court that his client’s wife had been diagnosed with liver cirrhosis the day before, but Yeo said he would prefer to start his sentence immediately.

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

However, those convicted under the provision of crimes against vulnerable adults can face up to one-and-a-half times the maximum punishment.

Related topics

court crime molestation autism spectrum disorder intellectual disability

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