Man who absconded attempted rape hearing tried to flee Singapore, caught

COVID-19 precautionary measures being taken at the Supreme Court building on 26 March 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
COVID-19 precautionary measures being taken at the Supreme Court building on 26 March 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — A man who disappeared half an hour before his High Court hearing was due to begin on Monday (22 March) was caught after he tried to leave Singapore through illegal means on Tuesday evening.

The 21-year-old man faced charges of sexual assault by penetration and attempted rape of a 15-year-old girl in 2017 and was due to enter his plea on Monday.

He ate breakfast with his father and lawyers at the building next to the court before his hearing. He then complained of stomach problems, visited the toilet and never returned.

Responding to queries from Yahoo News Singapore, the man's lawyer, Clarence Lun from Fervent Chambers, said that his client was caught by police officers at around 6pm on Tuesday and that he had plotted with an accomplice to leave Singapore via illegal means. He was intending to leave for Malaysia by boat. The accomplice, a 21-year-old man, was also arrested for allegedly harbouring the man.

Yahoo News Singapore understands that the man will face fresh charges for perverting the course of justice, under section 204A of the Penal Code.

The man will be produced in the High Court on Wednesday morning to determine whether bail should still be offered. He cannot be named due to a gag order imposed by the court.

His accomplice will be charged on Wednesday afternoon for illegally harbouring an offender, according to the Singapore Police Force.

Lawyer explained to judge

On Monday morning, court was delayed for half an hour as the lawyer and the man's father – his bailor – tried to call him.

When court convened, Lun told Justice Mavis Chionh that the man met with his father and Lun himself for breakfast that morning at around 9.10am at The Adelphi, and later told his companions that he had a "rumbling stomach" and would like to go to the restroom.

When asked if he would like to use the restroom at the High Court instead, the man claimed it was "urgent". He did not return.

"At around 9.25am, there was no sign of the accused and we went to the rest room to look for him and were unable to find the accused in the cubicles. We tried our best to search for the accused in the premises, I believe we went to different levels to search but couldn’t find the accused. As lead counsel, I made my way to court first and left my deputy to search for the accused with his father," Lun told the court.

Asked by the judge if parties had tried to call him on the phone, Lun replied yes, but that the phone was not turned on, and that they were not sure if the man had a phone with him.

His father tried to send him voice messages to request that his son turn up for court.

Addressing the court, the man's father said that his son's girlfriend had also texted him to ask how the court session was and that she had no idea of his whereabouts.

"I believe he would not just run away like this. I believe he was caught up in something," the father told the judge.

Justice Chionh then revoked the man's bail and issued a warrant of arrest against him. A show-cause hearing will be fixed later to determine if the $30,000 bail will be forfeited.

Yahoo News Singapore has contacted the police for more details.

Co-accused sentenced last year

The man is accused of attempting to rape a 15-year-old girl and sexually penetrating her at around 4am on 17 October 2017 at the foot of Block 557 Pasir Ris Street 51.

His co-accused, a then 19-year-old man, was jailed nine years and given nine strokes of the cane on 27 July last year after he pleaded guilty to raping the same girl on 17 October 2017 after a Truth or Dare game involving alcohol.

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