SINGAPORE — A man who got a thrill from sitting behind females on buses to molest them was jailed for two years and nine months on Friday (18 September).
At one point, Singaporean Vaz Clive Hilary Cheng Kiat, 41, took between 13 and 29 buses daily to destress and molest female passengers, of whom he had a fetish for touching from the back.
Vaz has a criminal record dating 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.
He next offended in 2018, twice molesting a victim. He was fined and jailed, with a psychiatrist determining that Vaz committed the offences as a maladaptive way of dealing with major depressive disorder.
Less than a month after his release, Vaz committed his current offences.
He 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 tried to grab 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, but went on to molest two 13-year-old girls – both of whom cannot be named due to a gag order – over a month later.
Vaz had pleaded guilty on 14 September to two charges of molesting a minor under 14 while two other charges involving the two women were considered when Vaz was sentenced.
Charges involving underaged girls
On 25 May last year, one of the girls 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, she 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, 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 50 metres 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.
For molesting a minor under 14, Vaz may be jailed up to five years, and/or caned, and/or fined.
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