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Prosecution files appeal against ex-Grab driver's acquittal for attempted rape of drunk passenger

SINGAPORE — The prosecution has filed an appeal against the High Court’s decision to acquit a former Grab driver of serious sexual offences against a female passenger in 2018, the Attorney-General’s Chambers said in an update on Tuesday (May 10).

Prosecution files appeal against ex-Grab driver's acquittal for attempted rape of drunk passenger

Former Grab driver Tan Yew Sin outside the High Court in September 2020.

SINGAPORE — The prosecution has filed an appeal against the High Court’s decision to acquit a former Grab driver of serious sexual offences against a female passenger in 2018, the Attorney-General’s Chambers said on Tuesday (May 10).

Two weeks ago, Mr Tan Yew Sin was found not guilty of one charge each of attempted rape, sexual assault and outrage of modesty.

The 48-year-old Singaporean had contested the charges in a trial and was acquitted by Justice Pang Khang Chau. The judge ruled that the prosecution did not prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the passenger, then aged 19, lacked the capacity to consent due to her alcohol intoxication.

Mr Tan’s lawyer, Mr Chenthil Kumarasingam from law firm Withers KhattarWong, confirmed with TODAY that the prosecution is appealing. 

The case attracted considerable public interest over aspects such as the large age gap between them and the fact that the woman was drunk at the time.

Mr Tan, who was married at the time of his alleged offences, was accused of committing the sexual acts in his car after picking up the passenger from a bar in the early hours of May 19 in 2018. She had drunk about five glasses of beer throughout the evening while with some friends.

She cannot be named due to a gag order to protect her identity.

During the trial, Mr Tan testified that he thought the sexual acts were consensual, and that at no point did she try to reject his advances.

The prosecution accepted that because the alleged victim was unable to recall the incident, the credibility of Mr Tan's testimony was crucial in determining whether there was consent.

Mr Tan’s version of events was consistent since his first statement to the police, Justice Pang said in accepting that his testimony was credible.

In addition, the judge found that the woman's demeanour and conduct on the evening would have led Mr Tan "to reasonably believe in good faith that she had the capacity to consent".

TODAY also spoke to legal experts and lawyers following the ruling. They agreed that although it had been proven that the sexual acts occurred, it could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that they were carried out without the woman's consent. 

Additionally, they noted then that one crucial aspect of the case that led to its clear resolution was the existence of “objective evidence” in the form of audio recordings from the in-car camera. 

If convicted of attempted rape and sexual assault, Mr Tan could have been jailed up to 20 years, and fined or caned.

If found guilty of outrage of modesty, he could have been jailed for up to two years, fined or caned, or any combination of these punishments.

Related topics

court crime attempted rape acquittal Grab driver

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