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Jail term of at least 3 weeks sought for undergrad molester

Jail term of at least 3 weeks sought for undergrad molester

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 11 Mar 2020
Author: Selina Lum

No link between his good academic showing and propensity for reform, prosecutors argue.

Prosecutors yesterday appealed for an undergraduate to be jailed for at least three weeks for molesting a woman at an MRT station. They argued that there was no link between his good academic performance and his propensity for reform.

Terence Siow Kai Yuan, 24, was sentenced to 21 months' supervised probation last year by a district judge, who said his academic results showed that he had the "potential to excel in life".

Yesterday, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who heard the prosecution's appeal, said the dichotomy between Siow's persona as an academic achiever and his "parallel" life as a pornography addict and sex offender was worrying.

"It's not clear to me that the judge completely considered these aspects of the case," he said.

He will deliberate on the case and give his decision at a later date.

Siow, an applied mathematics student at the National University of Singapore, was given probation last September after he pleaded guilty to one charge of outrage of modesty. Two similar charges were taken into consideration.

He was 22 when he committed the offences against a 28-year-old woman during a train ride on the North East Line and at Serangoon MRT station on Sept 12, 2018.

Siow sat next to the woman and touched her thigh. She moved away from him but he touched her again.

He followed her when she alighted and touched her buttocks as he stood behind her on the escalator. When she turned around and shouted at him, he fled the scene. She pointed Siow out to a station officer and later made a police report.

The district judge, in rejecting the prosecution's call for a custodial sentence, noted that Siow's offences were "minor intrusions".

She also noted his academic results, saying "there can be no doubt that there is extremely strong propensity for reform".

Yesterday, CJ Menon said he accepted that Siow's offences were not so serious that probation should be ruled out. But he said Siow still has to cross the legal threshold of showing "extremely strong propensity for reform".

But Deputy Public Prosecutor Kristy Tan argued that the two aspects of Siow's life - his sexual offending and his outwardly respectable life - were not mutually incompatible. She said Siow has always been an academic achiever, but that has not stopped him from pursuing a "parallel" track of offending behaviour.

"A good dose of deterrence may be the change maker in this case," she said.

Siow's lawyer, Mr Raphael Louis, said his client was making efforts to change. He said Siow has gone for counselling to address his pornography addiction, has stopped consuming pornography and is trying to maintain gainful employment.

A spokesman for NUS yesterday said disciplinary sanctions, including suspension of candidature and mandatory counselling, were imposed on Siow following a board of discipline hearing in October 2018.

These will go into his formal educational record at the university. He added that Siow has been on a leave of absence since January.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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