Man who punched girlfriend and molested her friend jailed 12 months

Wan Ting Koh
Singapore State Courts (AFP Photo/Mohd Fyrol)

He molested a girl in a taxi while his girlfriend was seated beside him. The hairdresser then beat his girlfriend up in the middle of an expressway during an argument.

Joseph Lorrennzo Chia, 23, was sentenced to 12 months’ jail on Monday (13 August) after he admitted to one count of molesting a 16-year-old girl, and two counts of causing hurt to the girl and his girlfriend, also 16, by punching them on the face. One count of using criminal intimidation to threaten the girl was taken into consideration for sentencing.

Both the girlfriend and the girl cannot be named to protect their identities.

Investigations showed that on 26 June last year, Chia and his girlfriend had gone to a KTV joint. His girlfriend invited her friends, including the girl.

After leaving the KTV joint, the couple, the girl and another friend headed to a convenience store.  They booked a taxi from Marina Square and Chia sat in the rear passenger seat with his girlfriend on his right and the girl on his left.

While in the taxi, Chia rested his left elbow on the side of the girl’s right breast. The girl pushed Chia’s left elbow away and shifted her body away but Chia repeated his action. The girl again pushed his elbow away before folding her arms across her chest.

However, Chia still tried to rest his left elbow on her breast. The girl was shocked and angry as a result of Chia’s actions, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lai.

Later during the ride, Chia changed places with the girl so that he could wind down the rear passenger window and smoke. After smoking, he asked the girl to lean back so that he could lie on her shoulder. The girl rebuffed Chia but he persisted in asking her a few times.

Upon hearing the exchange, the girlfriend shouted at Chia and they started arguing.

At around 3.15am on 27 June, the taxi was driving along the Central Expressway (CTE) when Chia started to punch his girlfriend’s face.

When the driver later stopped the taxi along the CTE towards Woodlands, the girlfriend dashed out of the taxi while Chia chased after her. After catching up with his girlfriend, Chia continued assaulting her.

The girl went towards the couple and tried to stop the attack. Chia punched the girl several times for intervening.

The incident was spotted by bouncer Haji Mohd Suhardi Haji Darhoni who happened to be driving along the expressway. He stopped his car in front of the taxi before calling the police. Haji approached Chia and told him to back off.

The two girls were later diagnosed with bruises and bleeding in the eyes.

DPP Lai sought 12 months’ jail for Chia, noting his previous convictions for offences including theft, sexual penetration of a minor and robbery in 2011. He was given probation following an appeal in 2012.

However while on probation, Chia reoffended by committing rape and drug offences. He was sentenced to reformative training, which is a more severe punishment than probation.

DPP Lai pointed out that Chia’s act of molestation was “persistent” and he had attacked the two girls on a vulnerable part of their bodies.

Chia’s lawyer, James Ow Yong, said that his client was supporting his family, including his grandparents. Chia’s father, who is a taxi driver, had been injured in a traffic accident and was unable to provide for the family, said the lawyer.

In sentencing Chia, District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim said, “You were released on 2016, but obviously your stint in reformative training centre is not sufficient to deter you from committing offences.”