A man who sexually harassed and slapped an American on an MRT train last year said in the State Courts on Friday (27 April) that he hoped to apologise to the victim in person and deal with his drinking issues.
Gan Thean Soo, a 71-year-old Singaporean, pleaded guilty a week ago to one charge of causing harassment and one charge of causing hurt to 25-year-old Joseph Flynn De Marini while in the MRT train heading towards Farrer Park MRT station. An additional charge of being a public nuisance was considered during sentencing.
The prosecution is seeking a two-week jail term and a fine for Gan, who was a business development manager at the time of the offences.
Gan’s lawyer Philip Loh has asked for a fine and community-based sentencing, saying that Gan was “truly remorseful” and is willing to seek help for his drinking problems.
Community-based sentencing includes conditions such as a day reporting order, a community service order or a short detention order.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Shenna Tjoa objected to community-based sentencing, saying that it is not the appropriate platform to address Gan’s alcohol-related issues.
Referring to a Institute of Mental Health report, which indicated that Gan was not severely intoxicated at the time of the offences, DPP Tjoa said he could not hide behind the excuse that he had committed the offences while drunk. He was “fully aware” of his actions, the incident was entirely unprovoked and happened in public, added DPP Tjoa.
In addition, Gan had previously been fined $4,000 for causing hurt in a previous incident and that was “insufficient to deter him”, said DPP Tjoa. He also had a previous traffic-related conviction.
Loh told the court that Gan turned to alcohol to cope with his estrangement from his two adult children.
According to Loh, Gan had sold a landed property to repay a loan sometime in 2005, a decision his children felt was foolish and they began to distance themselves from him.
Since the slapping incident in April 2017, Gan has cut down on his alcohol intake and only goes out for social drinking. He is prepared to accept whatever treatment prescribed to him and “sincerely wishes to address this issue thoroughly”, said Loh.
The lawyer added that Gan wishes to personally apologise to De Marini and hopes to be given an opportunity to do so.
About the case
After a drinking session in Chinatown on 19 April 2017, Gan boarded a train on the North-east Line and approached De Marini, who was travelling with a friend.
Gan began insinuating that the American was gay. He said to De Marini, “I like you, I am gay. Will you f**k me tonight?” He also accosted and touched the young man despite the latter telling him not to do so.
A member of the public walked towards Gan and tried to calm him down. Gan persisted in propositioning De Marini. He then slapped the victim on the side of his face.
De Marini, who didn’t retaliate against Gan, filmed the entire incident on video and posted it on Facebook.
District Judge May Mesenas called for a community-based sentencing suitability report and will sentence Gan on 12 June.