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File photo of a seat belt.

(Updated: )

SINGAPORE: A former taxi driver was given 14 months and three weeks’ jail on Tuesday (Apr 13) for molesting a 13-year-old boy he was ferrying home from school.

Chew Lye Beng, 58, cannot be caned as he is above 50, and three weeks of his jail term are in lieu of three strokes of the cane.

He had been convicted last month of one charge of using criminal force on a minor to outrage his modesty in his taxi on Jul 21, 2017.

He had picked up the boy – who was accompanied by a friend – and asked him to sit next to him in the front seat, chatting with him and pinching his cheeks on the way.

When they got to the boy’s home, Chew leaned over to help the boy with his seat belt and molested him. The shocked boy told his friend when they alighted that Chew had touched him.

Chew then asked the victim to go into a toilet with him, and asked his friend to wait in the car. However, the boy, frightened, ran away and retrieved a penknife from his home before returning to school for co-curricular activities (CCA) with his friend.

The crime was uncovered when his mother questioned him about the penknife.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Chong Kee En and Mansoor Amir had sought the sentence that was given, listing aggravating factors including that Chew was a public transport worker ferrying a young charge home from school.

Mr Chong also pointed to how Chew had conducted himself at trial, raising “aspersions” and suddenly saying he could not understand English because the prosecutor was Indian.

Chew’s lawyer asked for a jail term shorter than what the prosecution sought, saying that his client has decided on his own accord not to appeal against conviction.

Chew has not been working since the incident and has been receiving medication for depression. He is also having “significant stress socially among his family members” and has been “ostracised and is facing increasing social isolation”, said the lawyer.

He added that while the victim had said during the trial that he was traumatised for two to three days, he “went on to say that life went on as usual” and was not affected physically or mentally.

The criminal proceedings have taken a toll on the accused, said the lawyer, adding that he is remorseful and wants to apologise to the victim and all involved in the trial including the teachers and the victim’s mother.

For molesting a minor, he could have been jailed for up to five years and fined. 

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