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Man convicted of repeatedly assaulting and trapping woman in condo, acquitted of molesting her

SINGAPORE — A 41-year-old expatriate was found guilty on Tuesday (Sept 14) of 10 charges of attacking and confining a woman in his Farrer Road condominium unit, but acquitted of one charge each of assault and molestation.

Mitch Vanhille (pictured), a Belgian based in Singapore, was convicted of seven counts of voluntarily causing hurt, two counts of wrongful confinement, and one of using criminal force on the victim.

Mitch Vanhille (pictured), a Belgian based in Singapore, was convicted of seven counts of voluntarily causing hurt, two counts of wrongful confinement, and one of using criminal force on the victim.

  • Mitch Vanhille, 41, was found guilty of 10 charges and cleared of two others
  • The Ironman competitor did not deny most of the physical acts during the trial but gave various defences
  • The acts he was convicted of include dragging the victim by her hair across a corridor and hitting her face with a pair of jeans that had an attached belt
  • He will return for mitigation and sentencing on Sept 30

 

SINGAPORE — A 41-year-old expatriate was found guilty on Tuesday (Sept 14) of 10 charges of attacking and confining a woman in his Farrer Road condominium unit, but acquitted of one charge each of assault and molestation.

Mitch Vanhille, a Belgian based in Singapore, had contested all the charges in a trial that began in January last year. He was accused of committing the offences from May 16 to Nov 21 in 2018.

His victim cannot be named due to a court order to protect her identity. Her relationship with Vanhille also cannot be publicly disclosed.

On Tuesday, District Judge Sarah Tan convicted him of seven counts of voluntarily causing hurt, two counts of wrongful confinement, and one of using criminal force on the victim. 

He did not deny most of the physical acts but gave various defences, such as not deliberately aiming a remote control at her that struck her lip.

Vanhille, who has competed in Ironman fitness competitions, will return to court on Sept 30 for mitigation and sentencing. His bail amount was raised from S$15,000 to S$20,000.

CONVICTIONS

District Judge Tan noted that the incidents took place after September 2017, when Vanhille returned to Singapore from the Ironman World Championship in the US.

On May 16, 2018, the victim went to his condominium unit balcony to smoke, closing the door to prevent smoke from getting into the unit.

Vanhille admitted to engaging one of the locks, testifying that he wanted to “stop her annoyance” and “get some peace and quiet”. However, the victim gave evidence that he always left that lock unlocked.

He alleged through his defence counsel that there was no wrongful confinement because two other locks on panels leading to the living and exercise room were routinely unlocked. But she testified that she had unsuccessfully tried to open the panels at the exercise room.

In finding that Vanhille had trapped the victim on the balcony, the judge referred to his text messages to her, which included: “Let me know when you’re ready to leave and I will let you out.”

For the second incident of wrongful confinement, the victim had gone out to the backyard on Aug 30, 2018 to smoke. Vanhille then locked the door which led to the kitchen, asserting that he did so to stop her from arguing with him.

The assault incidents comprised:

  • Throwing a remote control at the victim that hit her lip

  • Dragging her by her hair across the corridor to the main door

  • Dragging her off a bed by her legs onto the floor causing a minor elbow abrasion and head bruise

  • Repeatedly hitting her thighs with a laptop

  • Spitting on her face

  • Hitting her legs with his elbows

  • Hitting her face with a pair of jeans with a belt attached to it

Vanhille testified that he had indeed dragged her down the corridor on July 24, 2018 after telling her to leave the apartment and keep quiet. She refused to do so and sat outside his bedroom door.

He claimed it had not occurred to him that she would be injured and he did know she had hit her head on the ground.

The judge found that he had the intention of causing hurt or the knowledge that it would likely happen. “Indeed, he testified that in the course of dragging her, she had resisted.”

ACQUITTALS

On the other hand, District Judge Tan cleared Vanhille of molesting the victim on Nov 21, 2018. 

Vanhille had testified that he was about to have sex with her, but was not able to do so.

“This was a case of her word against his word. Weighing all the evidence, I find that the prosecution has not proven the charge beyond a reasonable doubt and I acquit him,” the judge noted.

She also acquitted Vanhille of forcefully opening the victim’s mouth and slapping the victim's forehead on July 31, 2018. 

The victim had sent him text messages that read: “I hope you have the life you always wanted, away from people who aren’t good enough”, “Goodbye”, “You might want to check in the spare room tomorrow” and “But don’t worry, it won't stink for a while”.

She testified in court that she had retrieved some pills from Vanhille’s cabinet, sat on the bed and placed the pills in front of her. When Vanhille arrived home, he had to kick the door down as she had locked it from the inside.

The victim alleged that he had told her something along the lines of “don’t be selfish and kill yourself here”.

District Judge Tan said: “This scene would have pretty much painted a picture of intended or impending suicide, coupled with the earlier messages.

"In the accused’s mind, he thought the victim was trying to kill herself and in fact scolded her for it… I accept there was a reasonable doubt that he was trying to check for or remove any pills in her mouth.”

For voluntarily causing hurt, he could be jailed for up to two years or fined up to S$10,000, or both.

For wrongful confinement, he could be jailed for up to three years or fined, or both.

Related topics

molest crime courts Mitch Vanhille assault

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