Two men have been handed prison sentences for molesting female passengers on board public buses in separate incidents which took place in 2018.
Ramakrishnan Anbu, 49, and Kochadai Baskaran, 42, both Indian nationals, were each sentenced to four months’ jail at the State Courts on December 2.
The pair had each pleaded guilty to a single charge of molestation, but are appealing against their sentences.
They were granted bail of $10,000 each, pending their appeals.
Victim was molested in view of her family
On July 14, 2018, Ramakrishnan, a Singapore PR working as a production planner and has been living in Singapore for over 20 years, boarded bus 174 along Boon Lay Avenue at around 8pm.
The 23-year-old victim was sitting at a window seat near the back of the bus, while her family members sat two rows behind her.
Ramakrishnan initially sat across the aisle from the victim. When two passengers who were seated directly behind her alighted, he moved to sit directly behind the victim.
Ramakrishnan then proceeded to grope the left side of the victim’s breast for at least two seconds. The victim immediately turned towards Ramakrishnan.
He quickly retracted his hand and pretended to sleep by closing his eyes. He then tried to escape by pretending to wake up and pressed the bell to alight from the bus.
The victim approached the bus captain to report the molestation. The driver then stopped the bus and called the police hotline.
Molested victim who fell asleep
On November 8 2018, Kochadai, a construction safety supervisor who has been working in Singapore for over 10 years, boarded bus service 167 at about 6.30am.
Kochadai sat next to the 20-year-old victim, who was asleep. Throughout the journey, Kochadai felt the victim’s shoulder brushing against his and felt excited. He proceeded to use his right hand to grope her right breast.
The victim abruptly woke up and saw Kochadai touching her. The culprit quickly alighted the bus to escape. However, the victim managed to alight and catch up with Kochadai and give him a push.
Kochadai ran up an overhead bridge and fled. The victim called the police hotline when she lost sight of him. Kochadai was eventually apprehended by the police.
Defence lawyer asked for fines
Deputy Public Prosecutor Yan Jiakiang, who prosecuted both Ramakrishnan and Kochadai, asked for not less than five months’ jail for the duo, in line with previous molestation cases.
Defence lawyer Dhanaraj James Selvaraj, who represented both men, asked for a fine of between $3,500 and $5,000 for both cases.
The lawyer cited both Ramakrishnan and Kochadai’s apology letters and $1,000 compensation offers as mitigation factors in sentencing.
In sentencing, District Judge Toh Han Li maintained the need for the courts to “deter offenders from committing outrage of modesty cases on public transport has been highlighted on multiple occasions in Parliament”.
The district judge however, did give a sentencing discount on account of the two men’s pleas of guilt.
The maximum punishment for molestation is up to two years’ jail, a fine and caning.
Dramatic rise in molestation cases in Singapore
According to police statistics, cases of outrage of modesty have been steadily increasing with 837 reported cases in the first half of 2019 alone. The number of reported cases has also spiked 36 percent since 2016.