NZ farmer who offered Jurong West beer promoter 50 cents after molesting her jailed

Jeffrey Bruce Shearer, a sheep farmer from New Zealand, pushed a 50 cent coin across the table towards a beer promoter after molesting her on 24 July 2017.
Jeffrey Bruce Shearer, a sheep farmer from New Zealand, pushed a 50 cent coin across the table towards a beer promoter after molesting her on 24 July 2017.

After tipping a beer promoter 10 cents for bringing his order, he grabbed her breast in full view of his father-in-law and other patrons at a coffeeshop in Jurong West.

Jeffrey Bruce Shearer, a sheep farmer from New Zealand, tried to touch the woman again but she fended off his advances and shouted at him. In response, the man slid a 50-cent coin towards the woman, who rejected it.

Shearer, 45, was jailed six months on one count of outraging the 39-year-old woman’s modesty on Thursday (30 November). She cannot be named to protect her identity.

The father of three young children was in Singapore for a holiday and to visit his father-in-law, who works in Singapore as a business development officer.

The incident occurred on 24 July 2017 at around 9.26pm after Shearer and his father-in-law went to the coffeeshop and ordered beer from the woman. About half an hour later, Shearer ordered another beer from the woman, who brought it to them.

After the woman asked for payment, Shearer paid and gave her 10 cents extra, telling her it was a tip.

The woman thanked Shearer but could not understand what Shearer and his father-in-law subsequently said to her. The woman remained by the table to attend to the two men, who were both seated. This was when Shearer gave a sudden “perverted smile” and grabbed the woman’s right breast, causing pain to the woman, according to the prosecution.

She immediately pushed Shearer’s hand away but the man did not stop his attempts to touch her. After fending off his advances for a few seconds, the woman shouted at him, “What you do?!”

In response, Shearer laughed and pushed a 50-cent coin across the table towards the woman, who rejected it.

Upset and insulted, the woman confided in other customers and later informed her husband about the incident. The husband arrived at the coffeeshop at around 11pm and confronted Shearer, who confessed to the molest.

The husband called the police who subsequently arrested Shearer.

Shearer’s lawyer T M Sinnadurai said his client owns a large farm in New Zealand and had suffered financially because of the case.

Shearer incurred a loss of some NZ$318,000 (S$293,307), due partly to the death of his livestock from lack of maintenance, while he was being detained in Singapore, Sinnadurai said. He had to borrow money from a bank to keep the business afloat, the lawyer added.

Shearer’s children were also “traumatised” at not being able to see their father, the lawyer said. Shearer’s wife and elder brother flew to Singapore to see Shearer but were unable to stay for the hearing.

Sinnadurai said in mitigation that his client’s touch was “fleeting” and was done “in a moment of folly”. “He immediately moved his hand away and there was no persistence in the acts,” said the lawyer, who asked for a high fine, or a jail term of less than two months to be imposed on Shearer.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) James Choo, who asked for a minimum six-month jail term, disagreed that there was a lack of persistence as Shearer tried to touch the woman again. Shearer’s “forceful grab” cannot be seen as fleeting, DPP Choo added.

The prosecution also had strong words for Shearer’s 50-cent ‘tip’.

“The entire behaviour is chauvinistic and completely demeaning to the victim and is inherently reprehensible,” said the DPP.

Pointing out that the woman had a husband, the DPP asked, “How would he feel if his wife was treated like that?”

Speaking with his head slightly bowed, Shearer told the court that he was apologetic for the “hurt and insult” he caused the woman and said he “deeply” regretted his actions.

District Judge (DJ) Dorothy Ling said that a fine would not be appropriate given the insult the woman was put through.

“The message must go out that service staff must be treated, if not with respect, then appropriately. On no account should they be made to feel vulnerable at their workplace,” said DJ Ling, adding that the woman was just making a living when the incident occurred.

For outraging the woman’s modesty, Shearer could have been jailed up to two years and/or fined and/or caned.