12 years, 3 months' jail, caning for bouncer who raped drunk woman, egged on by friends

Woman crouching against wall.
Woman crouching against wall. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A club bouncer who raped an unconscious woman after bringing her to a chalet was jailed for 12 years and three months, and given 10 strokes of the cane on Monday (29 March).

Yap Chun Chieh, 40, had pleaded guilty to one count each of rape and molest. The former manager of Club V5 Tycoon, currently unemployed, had raped the heavily intoxicated 24-year-old victim in 2018 at the encouragement of two male friends. One count of molest was taken into consideration for his sentencing.

The sentencing had earlier been adjourned over Yap's purported psychiatric issues. Yap's lawyer, John Koh from Populus Law, raised differences in the state psychiatrist and a private psychiatrist's diagnoses of Yap's condition.

The prosecution had argued that Yap's mild neurocognitive disorder was not a psychiatric condition that warranted mitigating weight, as Yap was "perfectly capable and competent" in making his own decisions and acting on them.

"He is not an impaired automaton who has no mind of his own, but listens to others blindly," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Yiwen, who added that Yap had a sufficiently high level of functioning to present "facts" that were favourable to him, even lying to his private psychiatrist about not molesting the girl in the hotel.

However, the defence argued that Yap's condition “had a direct contributory link to his behaviour in impairing his judgment and decision-making process”. His commission of the offences should be seen "in context of someone with underlying cognitive impairments, and who was acting out under negative peer pressure and influence of authority”.

Koh and co-counsel Muhammad Riyach Hussain Omar sought less than 11 years and nine months' jail with nine strokes of the cane.

Through clinical tests, the psychiatrist also found that Yap was of “very poor cognitive functioning and extremely low adaptive functioning”.

Referring to the Statement of Facts, the defence pointed out that Yap had been constantly influenced by peers into committing the acts against the victim, even though he had initially only intended to send the victim home when he brought her to the taxi stand.

Delivering the sentence, Justice See Kee Oon said he did not accept that Yap's mild neurocognitive disorder – caused by an earlier illness – had impaired his ability to make decisions to such a serious extent as to warrant mitigating weight.

Evidence suggested that Yap retained his ability to function as a working adult within the community after completing his Institute of Technical Education studies and completing national service, the judge stated.

While the judge said that peer pressure was a factor he considered, he was not persuaded that it carried substantial mitigating weight.

Yap's friends were Tay Boon Huat, 28, Yong Chun Hong, 31, Gan Soon Chai, 35, a 42-year-old friend, and three others. The latter trio, Yong and Gan also worked at Club V5 – Yong was a manager/bouncer and Gan was a cashier.

They were staying at a chalet at Downtown East, where the offences were committed.

Day of incident

On 17 September 2018, the victim arrived at the club around 3.35am with her friends after consuming alcohol at another club earlier. At Club V5, the victim drank more alcohol, and she later got involved in a dispute with a group involving Tay outside the club.

After the dispute, the victim’s friends left her behind. The victim continued drinking with Tay, Yong and the 42-year-old friend. At around 6.35am, Yong asked Yap to send the victim home by taxi.

After Club V5 closed at about 7am,Yong, Gan and Tay decided to return to the chalet and boarded the 42-year-old friend’s car. The group drove by the taxi stand at the Forum the Shopping Mall, where they saw Yap with the heavily intoxicated woman.

Yong managed to persuade Yap to join them at the chalet and pulled the unconscious woman into the car. While in the car, Tay, Yap and Yong molested the victim, who was seated on Yap’s lap.

After reaching the chalet, the group placed the inebriated woman on the bed. Yong and Tay then egged Yap on, stating that “the woman is already lying here and you still are not having sex with her. What are you waiting for?”

Encouraged by what the men told him, Yap raped the unresponsive woman while Tay sexually assaulted her. Gan, who had been lying on the next bed, filmed the assault furtively.

After the sexual assault, Tay and Yap each spent some time with the woman in the toilet.

At about 9am that day, Yap got dressed and helped the woman get dressed as well before putting her in a taxi to send her to the address on her NRIC. When the woman could not be roused at a void deck near her house, Yap brought her to a Hotel 81 outlet to sleep.

Yap molested her again before she regained consciousness that evening. She realised she was beside Yap, who was a stranger to her, and that her clothes were in disarray.

The woman left the room with Yap after paying the bill. Although she knew something had happened to her, she did not make an immediate police report as did not know what to do.

She met a friend at Club V5 to talk about what happened to her. She returned on 23 and 24 September 2018 and confronted Yap about what happened to her. At this point, Yap admitted that he had had sex with her and apologised.

The victim eventually made a police report. Tay, Yong, Gan, Yap, and the 42-year-old friend were arrested, which led to the discovery of the sexual assault video.

Thus far, Gan and Tay have been dealt with. The 42-year-old friend was not charged over the incident, while Yong’s case is still pending before the court.

For rape, Yap could have been jailed up to 20 years, and fined or caned. For molest, he could have been jailed up to two years, or fined or caned, or with any combination of the penalties.

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