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Man on trial for repeatedly assaulting, molesting woman over half a year

SINGAPORE — A former regional director with Nike began standing trial in a district court on Tuesday (Jan 28) for a dozen criminal charges, including assaulting and wrongfully confining a woman.

SINGAPORE — A former regional director with Nike began standing trial in a district court on Tuesday (Jan 28) for a dozen criminal charges, including assaulting and wrongfully confining a woman.

Mitch Vanhille, a 39-year-old Belgian national based in Singapore, is accused of committing the offences from May 16 to Nov 21 in 2018.

His alleged victim cannot be named due to a court gag order to protect her identity. 

Vanhille, who has competed in Ironman competitions, is contesting 12 charges including:

  • Locking the woman out on a balcony and backyard on two different occasions

  • Molesting her by pulling down their underwear and pressing his penis against her thigh

  • Throwing a remote control at her which hit her lip

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

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

  • Repeatedly hitting the alleged victim’s thighs with a laptop

  • Spitting on her face

  • Hitting the woman’s legs with his elbows

  • Forcing her mouth open and slapping her forehead

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

Vanhille’s lawyers, Ms Kasturibai Manickam and Mr Paul, told District Judge Sarah Tan that they intend to argue that the alleged victim’s accusations were borne “out of malice”.

The lawyers were attempting to explain why text messages between Vanhille and the organiser of a charity run he participated in should be admitted as evidence.

When the judge asked how the messages were relevant to the charges, Mr Paul, replied that they showed “the interference of the victim in his affairs after he was charged”.

“We’re saying that the victim was not content with making a complaint. She went further by wanting to destroy him, destroy his career, destroy his athletic career,” the lawyer said.

“He will say that he had no intention to embarrass or humiliate her. She turned the whole thing around and claimed he molested and assaulted her… It goes towards her motive for making reports against him,” Mr Paul added.

District Judge Tan told them that the prosecution will argue at a later juncture about the relevance of the messages.

Earlier during the trial, Vanhille’s former neighbour testified that she frequently heard arguments taking place in his condominium apartment. 

Its location was redacted from court documents.

She recounted an incident in July 2018, when she heard a “very loud sound” one evening — so loud that she thought someone had fallen off a balcony.

When she ran out of her apartment to check what had happened, she saw a woman lying on the ground and leaning towards Vanhille’s front door. 

The woman was crying, the neighbour testified, and did not respond when asked if she needed help.

“I told her if there was anything you need, I will be waiting on my sofa and I can hear everything… I went back in and waited till 1am. I don’t recall the exact time, but I heard something like a trolley or suitcase rolling over the floor. Then I went to bed,” she added.

The neighbour had heard arguments coming from Vanhille’s apartment for about a year before this incident, she told the court.

The trial continues on Wednesday with the alleged victim taking the stand.

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Mitch Vanhille Ironman molest court crime

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