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Man jailed 3.5 years for molesting woman in lift, after stalking her for months

SINGAPORE — For months, Tia Sin Kwang stalked a woman he had met at his workplace and who lived in his neighbourhood, sending her text messages on the phone and waiting at the void deck of her housing block.

Man jailed 3.5 years for molesting woman in lift, after stalking her for months
Despite a woman telling him to stop contacting her, Tia Sin Kwang persisted in following her and then molested her in a lift.
  • Tia Sin Kwang, 56, pleaded guilty to one count of wrongful restraint to outrage the modesty of a woman
  • The court heard Tia followed the victim into a lift and molested her there
  • When the victim fled, Tia followed her to a bus stop and boarded a bus with her
  • Tia was jailed for three years and six months

SINGAPORE — For months, Tia Sin Kwang stalked a woman he had met at his workplace and who lived in his neighbourhood, sending her text messages on the phone and waiting at the void deck of her housing block.

Undeterred by her repeated rejections of his professed love for her, his actions instead became more aggravated until one day he trailed her into the lift to her home and molested her.

When the woman fled the scene, Tia continued following her as she boarded and alighted from a bus. On board the bus, he showed the victim a photo of her that he had kept in his phone, which made her feel “disgusted”, the court heard.

Tia, 56, who is married with children, pleaded guilty on Friday (Jan 28) to one count of wrongful restraint to outrage the modesty of the victim.

He was jailed for three years and six months, which includes three months' jail in lieu of caning. Under the law, Tia cannot be caned as he is above 50 years of age.

One charge of unlawfully stalking was taken into consideration when sentencing.

RELENTLESSLY PURSUED VICTIM 

The court heard that Tia and the victim, who was 38 at the time, knew each other as they had worked in the same building and lived in the same neighbourhood.

While they occasionally made small talk, the prosecutor told the court that they were “not friends”.

Early last year, Tia saw the victim with her daughter in the neighbourhood, and offered some tracing books for the child.

The victim agreed and the two of them met near her home so that Tia could hand her the books. Tia then followed her up the lift to the level where she lived, on the pretext of escorting her home.

From May last year, Tia persistently stalked the victim, by repeatedly texting her to ask her if she loved him, standing outside her unit on a few occasions and following the victim and her daughter at the void deck.

On the morning of Aug 6 last year, the victim was leaving her house to go to work when she saw Tia loitering at the lift lobby.

Tia followed the victim into the lift, gradually cornering her before holding both her arms. He then proceeded to grope the woman’s crotch area and breast, only moving away when the lift door opened on one of the floors.

When the lift reached the ground floor, Tia continued trailing the victim to a bus stop, then went onto the bus and alighted with her at Bukit Merah bus interchange. 

While the victim was waiting for another bus, Tia showed her a photo of herself that he had kept in his phone, taken from the woman’s Facebook profile. The victim felt disgusted and tried to distance herself from him, but Tia persisted in standing near her until she took the next bus.

The victim then set her Facebook settings to private.

'HE TREATED HER WELL'

Defence lawyer Foo Ho Chew of HC Law Practice described Tia’s actions as out of character, and said that the accused has been a good employee and a good husband and father to his family.

Mr Foo said that his client “gave into his emotion when he ought not to” in hopes that the victim would reciprocate his feelings. He had “treated her well in the preceding weeks (before the molesting incident)” by showering her with gifts.

Referring to Tia’s actions of stalking the victim over a prolonged period, Mr Foo said that he “sees it as (a) one-off series of offences”, while adding that the molestation lasted only for a few minutes.

The biggest mitigating factor, Mr Foo said, was Tia’s remorse.

He told the court that the accused had instructed him “not to argue with the DPP (Deputy Public Prosecutor) too much” because he felt deeply sorry towards the victim and his own family.

Tia had also pleaded guilty at a very early stage, demonstrating his remorse, the lawyer added.

DPP Michelle Tay, in asking for a tougher penalty than the mandatory minimum sentence, highlighted that the offence was premeditated, with Tia waiting for the victim at the lift lobby beforehand.

He had no reason to hope for his advances to be reciprocated, she added, given that the victim had rebuffed him multiple times and told him to stop contacting her.

Despite the rejections, Tia continued with what DPP Tay described as “persistent and consistent stalking”.

In delivering the sentence, District Judge Ng Peng Hong said that a sentence greater than the mandatory minimum was appropriate, given the serious nature and circumstances of the crime.

A conviction for wrongful restraint to molest a victim carries a jail term of between two and 10 years with caning. The minimum term is increased to three years if the offence is committed in the lift of any building, or if the victim is under 14 years of age.

Related topics

court crime molest stalking lift

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