SINGAPORE — Taking a break from walking her employer’s dogs, a foreign domestic worker was on the phone with her family when Choong Toh Min came up behind her to grab her chest before running away.
The 46-year-old Singaporean was sentenced to seven years of preventive detention on Tuesday (Oct 17) after pleading guilty last month to using criminal force to outrage the modesty of a person.
Preventive detention means that the offender will be detained in prison for a substantial period of time. It is usually imposed on a repeat offender who has at least three prior convictions.
Choong satisfied the requirement for this punishment since he has five past convictions for outrage of modesty and aggravated outrage of modesty, which were committed against foreign domestic workers who were alone.
His offences date back to 2003 when he committed two such offences, before re-offending in 2007, 2009 and 2014.
The victim’s name cannot be published due to a court order to protect her identity.
The court heard that on the morning of June 10, the Indonesian domestic worker was walking her employer’s dogs when she decided to take a seat at the void deck of a public housing block, behind a pillar. This was in the Telok Blangah Rise estate.
As she sat, she saw Choong walking around the void deck but did not think much of it since she had seen him in the area before.
She then called her family and was speaking to them on her mobile phone when she was grabbed on the right side of her chest.
She stood up immediately and saw Choong running away.
Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP) Chye Jer Yuan said that Choong had approached the woman from behind and grabbed her chest before fleeing.
She shouted for help but no one was around to assist her.
She then headed home but did not tell her employer what had happened because she was afraid that she would be scolded and did not want to create any trouble.
However, she changed her mind two days later and decided to tell her employer about it because she was worried for her safety.
Her employer made a police report.
Investigations later revealed that Choong had worn a surgical mask when committing the offence and ran away to a nearby block to hide and evade detection.
He also admitted that he knew what he did was wrong but had felt excited when he molested the woman.
When investigators asked why he touched and squeezed just one side of the chest and not both, he responded: “If I touch both, very heavy sentence.”
‘NOT OF UNSOUND MIND’
When the prosecution earlier called for a preventive detention suitability report, APP Chye argued that Choong had pre-meditation since he not only knew there was no camera at the location but also wore a mask in a bid to evade detection.
He said that even though Choong was certified by the Institute of Mental Health to be suffering from mild intellectual disability, he was not of unsound mind and knew that what he did was wrong.
Imposing preventive detention is to protect the public since Choong is an unrepentant repeat offender who has a very high risk of criminal sexual offending and is not deterred by his past convictions, APP Chye added.
Anyone guilty of assaulting or using criminal force to outrage the modesty of a person could be jailed for up to three years and fined, or caned, or with any combination of these punishments.