Cleaner sentenced to jail and caning for molesting 2 residents in condominium lift

Image from Getty Images.
Image from Getty Images.

He was a cleaner at a condominium who had just finished work when he separately molested two residents in a lift within an hour. One of the victims was with her daughter when the incident happened.

Challes Jayakumar, a 27-year-old Malaysian national, was sentenced to three years and two months’ jail on Thursday (21 February) after pleading guilty to one count of aggravated molest and one count of molest. He will also be given three strokes of the cane.

One count of using criminal force on a third woman, by grabbing her neck and pulling her backwards, was taken into consideration for his sentencing.

On 16 June 2017, a 29-year-old woman returned home after shopping for groceries. Challes had just consumed four to five cans of beer when he and the woman entered a lift in the condominium.

As the woman was trying to step out of the lift on the fourth floor, Challes hugged her from the front. The woman pushed him away and slapped him with her right hand.

Undeterred, Challes attempted to hug her again as the lift started ascending. While restraining the woman, Challes molested her. She dropped her bag of groceries in order to fend Challes away.

When the lift doors opened on the 15th floor, Challes made his escape. The woman returned to the fourth floor and recounted the incident to her husband, who reported it to a security officer of the condominium.

Some 45 minutes after the incident, Challes and another woman, 35, who was with her young daughter, entered the lift. As the lift was ascending, Challes asked the girl for her name. He then extended his hand and touched the woman’s breast.

In response, the woman seized his hand and asked him what he was doing. The man replied, “Yours is big so…”, before apologising.

When the woman reached home, she mentioned the incident to her husband, who also lodged a complaint to the security officer. The police were notified about the two incidents.

Some 15 minutes after the second incident, Challes grabbed the neck of a third woman, 21, and pulled her backwards while inside the lift.

The following day, Challes travelled to Malaysia and was notified he was fired from his job and that he was a wanted man.

Challes subsequently remained in Malaysia for more than 18 months before returning to Singapore on 8 January this year to look for a job. He was arrested at Woodlands Checkpoint as he was entering Singapore.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ho Jiayun sought a jail sentence of three years and six months and three strokes of the cane to be imposed on Challes, who was unrepresented.

Challes told the court through an interpreter that he was not in the habit of drinking but had done so under the pressure of his friends. Pleading for leniency, Challes added that his wife was six months pregnant.

District Judge Marvin Bay described Challes actions on the first victim as a “truly reprehensible attack” and on the second victim in front of her young daughter as “aggravating”.

For aggravated molest, the man could have been jailed between two and 10 years and caned. For molest, he could have sentenced to jailed for up to two years, a fine or caning, or any of the combination.

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