Carlton Hotel sexual assault: British trio jailed on reduced charges in Singapore

Khong (left) and Le arrive at the High Court. PHOTO: Safhras Khan/Yahoo News Singapore

Three British men who had initially gone on trial for rape in Singapore have been sentenced to between five-and-a-half and six-and-a-half years’ in jail and caning on reduced charges of aggravated molestation.

Khong Tam Thanh, 22, Vu Thai Son, 24, and Michael Le, 24, pleaded guilty in the High Court on Monday (14 August) to outraging the Malaysian woman’s modesty by having sex with her while forcibly restraining her at the Carlton Hotel on 10 September, 2016.

Khong and Vu also each admitted to another charge of outraging the modesty of the woman, whose identity cannot be revealed due to a gag order, by using their fingers to penetrate her private parts.

On Tuesday, Khong was sentenced to six years jail while Vu and Le were given jail terms of six-and-a-half years’ and five-and-a-half years’ jail respectively.

Khong and Vu were also each sentenced to eight strokes of the cane, while Le was given five strokes.  Any person who is convicted of aggravated molestation faces between two and 10 years’ jail and caning.

Prior to their sentencing, the trio submitted letters of apology to the victim. After Khong’s original charge was reduced, he offered $5,000 to the victim to show his remorse.

The trio, who are of Vietnamese descent, arrived in Singapore on 9 September, 2016, and were part of a group that attended a stag party for Khong’s brother. The group had booked three rooms on the 16th floor of Carlton Hotel, located at Bras Basah Road. They later headed to Zouk, a popular night spot.

It was at Zouk that the woman, who was 23 at the time of the incident, met Ahn Viet Trinh, also known as Richard, for the first time. Richard, 24, was with several friends including Khong, Vu and Le. The woman, who was drunk, suggested to Richard that they return to his room at the Carlton Hotel and he agreed. They then had consensual sex.

At that point, Khong, Vu and Le were gathered in a separate room with several other friends. After the woman fell asleep in Richard’s room, the trio took turns to enter the room and have sex with her. Deputy Public Prosecutor G. Kannan said that the trio did so “like clockwork” beginning with Khong, followed by Vu and Le.

The woman woke up while Le was having sex with her and they had an argument. Le claimed that he was the person that the woman had gone to the hotel with. After Le left the room, Richard returned and the woman confronted him as she suspected that he was involved in the incident. However, Richard denied having knowledge of what had happened.

Richard, who is also a British citizen of Vietnamese descent, absconded from Singapore before investigations were completed.

In passing her sentence, Judicial Commissioner Hoo Sheau Peng called the incident “disturbing”.

“They knew that the victim (who was intoxicated) was unable to defend herself and they violated her. They had no respect for the dignity and the anatomy (of their victim),” she said.

JC Hoo allowed the sentences for both Le and Khong to commence at a later date, to allow the duo to spend some time with their family members who have flew in from the United Kingdom. Le will start serving his sentence on 18 August while Khong will start his on 22 August.

Vu, who is currently in remand, will start serving his sentence immediately. His sentence was backdated to 12 September, 2016.