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HomesingaporeTaxi driver convicted of molesting 17-year-old girl after offering her free ride

Taxi driver convicted of molesting 17-year-old girl after offering her free ride

SINGAPORE: A taxi driver accused of molesting a 17-year-old girl after offering her a free ride was convicted on Monday (Oct 30) of three counts of molestation.

Ler Chun Poh, 43, molested the victim three times while helping her to put on or remove her seatbelt, assistance she had not asked for.

The judge convicted him, saying he accepted the victim’s testimony and found that the prosecution had proven its case.

He rejected Ler’s submissions of bare denial, finding him an “untruthful, evasive and uncooperative witness”.

The court heard that Ler, who is also known as Lu Junbao, came across the victim alone before 11.40pm on Oct 29, 2021.

She was at a bus stop in front of a car park near Block 486, Choa Chu Kang Avenue 5.

The teenager was looking for a BlueSG rental car driven earlier that night by her boyfriend because she thought she had left her phone inside.

Ler spotted the victim and stopped his taxi. He spoke to her and offered her a free ride, even though he knew that she did not have money to pay him.

At the time, the victim was feeling very worried as she had tried to look for her phone to no avail. She had not made any gestures to flag the taxi, but when he insisted on giving her a ride, she boarded the cab.

She sat in the front passenger seat, which was her usual practice when taking a taxi with her family.

She asked Ler for his mobile number, as she wanted to ask her mother to transfer him money for the trip, but he declined.

The victim testified at trial that a sound went off signalling that she had not put on her seatbelt.

She started to do so, when Ler reached out his hand to help her. According to the victim, Ler’s hand brushed her chest area with pressure that was “not light”.

He had not given her any warning that he was going to hold onto her seatbelt or that he was going to reach towards her, she said.

She felt shocked at the contact but did not say anything.

When they got to a nearby car park, the girl alighted and went to look for the BlueSG cars which were parked there. Ler remained in his cab, waiting.

She was unable to find the phone and returned to the taxi, where Ler offered to take her home.

The girl said she declined, but he insisted on dropping her off somewhere nearby. There was no one else around, she said.

Eventually, she returned to the taxi, but did not feel good. She said she was in an “unstable state of mind” where all she could think of was to find her phone.

She began putting on her seatbelt, even though there was no reminder this time, and Let again reached out his hand.

He molested her again while buckling the belt without any warning.

The girl felt shocked again. When they got to her location, the victim began unbuckling her seatbelt, and Ler reached out and molested her again while “helping” her unbuckle the seatbelt.

The victim quickly alighted and thanked Ler for the ride before approaching a group of strangers to borrow a phone.

She contacted her boyfriend and went to another set of parking lots for BlueSG cars to wait for him.

She later called the police and told her boyfriend that she had been molested by the taxi driver.

LER’S SELF-DEFENCE

Ler denied the charges. He claimed that the victim had boarded his taxi of her own accord, and said it was more likely that it was “incidental” and not intentional.

When he cross-examined the victim, he asked: “Don’t you think that regards to the molestation, you are creating good chance?”

He also asked her if she felt “molestation” occurs “with interest”: “In order to, you know, go to you and molest, the person must have some feeling, right, for you?”

He also asked the victim: “Why you never do anything to prevent … you getting (molested), you getting touched.”

District Judge Soh Tze Bian said he “totally rejected” Ler’s testimony at trial.

He will return to court for mitigation and sentencing next month.

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