SINGAPORE — Less than a month after he was released from prison for molest, an offender molested a woman on a bus. While out on bail after being charged for this and another offence, he went on to touch two 13-year-old girls – also on a buses.
Singaporean Vaz Clive Hilary Cheng Kiat, 41, deliberately sat behind his victims and slipped his hand into gaps between seats or a seat and window to touch them.
Vaz pleaded guilty on Monday (14 September) to two charges of molesting a minor under 14 while two other charges, involving the two women, aged 24 and 31, will be taken into consideration when Vaz is sentenced.
On 25 May last year, one of the girls – they cannot be named due to a gag order – boarded the bus near Clarke Quay Central with her parents and younger sister. She sat on the upper deck next to her sister at about 8.07pm.
Vaz boarded the same bus at about 8.21pm and intentionally sat behind the girl, even though there were many other seats available.
He then slid his hand into the gap between the girl’s seat and the window and touched her right breast over her clothing for a few seconds. The girl turned around to look at Vaz as she felt uncomfortable and offended. Vaz retracted his hand.
The girl remained quiet as she did not know how to react. A while later, the girl noticed a woman coming up to the upper deck. The woman proceeded to sit behind her. The girl turned around, intending to warn the woman about Vaz, and saw that he had changed seats but was staring at her.
Petrified, the girl kept chewing her nails until she alighted at 8.26pm near ION Orchard. She revealed the incident to her mother after alighting.
After he was charged for this offence, he was again released on bail on 17 July this year and similarly returned to his old ways. This time, he was caught when the victim approached the bus driver.
On 3 August this year, the victim boarded a bus at 2.20pm after finishing school. She sat on the upper deck of the bus and began to use her phone. Some time into her journey, she began to feel pressure on her left waist but brushed it off as she believed it was caused by the weight of her bag.
When the sensation continued for two minutes, the girl looked down and saw Vaz’s fingers resting on her left waist, with his hand protruding from the gap between the seats. Vaz had chosen the seat behind her with the intention to touch her.
Shocked, the girl turned and shouted, “What the hell are you doing!” Vaz raised both palms, apologised and attempted to leave. The girl turned to a man in front of her and asked for help, but the man refused and told her to ask the bus driver for help herself, according to the prosecution.
While the bus was still moving, the girl followed Vaz down and approached the bus captain. She pointed Vaz out to the captain but Vaz denied the offence repeatedly. The bus captain then stopped the bus and asked Vaz to sit down. The girl was by now in tears and very shaken.
At this moment, another passenger indicated that he wished to alight. As the doors were opened for him, Vaz took the opportunity to flee. The passenger tried to push Vaz back on the bus, but Vaz pushed him and ran away. Upon seeing this, the girl burst into tears. The other passengers tried to comfort the girl, who later said she was traumatised by the incident and blamed herself for not screaming or fighting back. She stated that she no longer wanted to take buses.
The passenger ran after Vaz for 50m and grabbed his bag, causing Vaz to fall and fracture his knee. The bus captain called the police and Vaz was conveyed to the hospital.
Charges taken into consideration
Prior to these incidents with the girls, Vaz had poked a 31-year-old woman’s breast over her clothing for over five minutes on a bus on 11 February last year. When the woman shouted and grabbed at him, Vaz broke free and ran off. On 9 March last year, Vaz sat on a bus behind a 24-year-old woman and used his palm to touch her left tricep.
Vaz was arrested for these offences on 12 March last year. He was charged in court a day later and released on bail on 3 April last year – he went on to molest the girls over a month later.
Vaz has admitted that he habitually takes buses without a destination in order to “destress” and molest female passengers. He said that he has a fetish for touching them from the back. In March last year, Vaz took between 13 and 29 buses a day, according to the Singapore Police Force’s Transport Command.
Vaz’s sex offending dates back to 2002, when he touched a 19-year-old woman’s torso under her armpit, also while on the bus. He attempted to flee from the bus but was detained. He was then given five weeks’ jail.
His next four offences were in 2018, when he molested one of the victims twice. He was fined and jailed, with a psychiatrist determining that Vaz committed the offences as a maladaptive way of dealing with major depressive disorder.
Vaz will be sentenced on Friday.
For molesting a minor under 14, Vaz may be jailed up to five years, and/or caned, and/or fined.
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