SINGAPORE — Two men have been sentenced to jail for molesting female passengers on board public buses in separate incidents which took place last year.
Ramakrishnan Anbu, 49, and Kochadai Baskaran, 42, both Indian nationals, were each sentenced to four months’ jail at the State Courts last Monday (2 December).
The duo had each pleaded guilty to a single charge of molestation, but are appealing against their sentences.
They were granted bail of $10,000 each, pending their appeals.
Molested victim in view of her family
On 14 July last year, Ramakrishnan, a Singapore permanent resident working as a production planner, boarded bus service 174 along Boon Lay Avenue at around 8pm.
The 23-year-old victim was sitting at a window seat near the back of the bus, while her family members sat two rows behind her.
Ramakrishnan, who has lived in Singapore for more than 20 years, initially sat across the aisle from the victim. When two passengers who were seated directly behind her alighted, he went to sit directly behind the victim.
Shortly after, Ramakrishnan used his left hand to touch the left side of the victim’s breast for at least two seconds.The victim immediately turned towards the direction of the touch and saw Ramakrishnan’s hand.
He quickly retracted his hand and pretended to be asleep by closing his eyes. He then pretended to wake up and pressed the bell to indicate his intention to alight.
The victim went up to the bus captain to say that she had been molested. The driver then stopped the bus at a stop along Jurong Road towards Bukit Batok and called the police hotline.
Molested victim who fell asleep
On 8 November last year, Kochadai, a construction worker, boarded bus service 167 at about 6.30am.
The safety supervisor, who has been working in Singapore for more than 10 years, sat next to the 20-year-old victim, who had boarded the bus half an hour earlier and was sleeping at the back row of the bus, on the extreme left seat.
During the journey, Kochadai felt the victim’s shoulder brushing against his and felt excited. At about 6.50am, he used his right hand to touch her right breast.
The victim woke up and saw Kochadai touching her. She confronted him by asked him, “what are you doing?”
The culprit quickly alighted at the next stop which was opposite Thomson Medical Centre.
The victim also alighted and followed him. She caught up with him and gave him a push.
But Kochadai ran up an overhead bridge and fled. The victim could not catch with him and called the police hotline when she lost sight of him. Officers later arrested the perpetrator.
Duo’s lawyer asked for fines
Deputy Public Prosecutor Yan Jiakiang, who prosecuted both Ramakrishnan and Kochadai, asked for not less than five months’ jail for the duo, in line with previous molestation cases.
Meanwhile, lawyer Dhanaraj James Selvaraj, who defended both men, asked for a fine of between $3,500 and $5,000 for both cases, citing two reported molestation cases where fines were imposed.
In mitigation, the lawyer said both Ramakrishnan and Kochadai had handed over apology letters addressed to their victims to the respective investigation officers, and also offered $1,000 in compensation to their victims.
Ramakrishnan who is married with no children, financially supports his wife in Singapore and his family in India. Meanwhile, Kochadai is also the sole breadwinner of his family and has two children - a boy and a girl aged 11 and 10 respectively.
In sentencing, District Judge Toh Han Li noted that the cases cited by Dhanaraj involved the touching of the victim’s thighs and were not relevant to the present cases.
He also noted a High Court judge’s observation in 2017 that “the growing need for the courts to deter offenders from committing outrage of modesty cases on public transport has been highlighted on multiple occasions in Parliament”.
The district judge gave a sentencing discount on account of the two men’s pleas of guilt which, among others, spared the victims from the ordeal of testifying and saving resources expended for a trial.
The maximum punishment for molestation is up to two years’ jail, a fine and caning.
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