Hours after he had been fined for setting fire to his neighbour's clothes, Phui Jun Ming was back to his criminal ways.
This time, he molested a 14-year-old girl in a lift.
Phui, 22, was yesterday sentenced to 12 months in jail and one stroke of the cane for three offences: Two of outrage of modesty, and one of mischief by fire.
Another outrage of modesty charge was taken into consideration during sentencing.
On June 12 last year, Phui was fined $2,000 for setting fire to his neighbour's clothes, which he had spotted hanging from a bamboo pole on the first storey of a Bukit Panjang block on Dec 22, 2013.
By the early hours of June 13, he had molested a girl.
At about 1.20am, Phui, who is unemployed, spotted a 14-year-old girl at the lift landing at the foot of her block.
She was returning home from a barbecue.
Phui followed her into the lift and pressed the button for a higher floor than hers.
As the lift was going up, he squeezed her left breast once.
Shocked, she dashed out of the lift, which had arrived at her floor.
After the lift stopped at a higher floor, Phui took the stairs down to where the girl had got off and peeped at her from the staircase landing.
As the shaken girl was opening the door, she saw Phui at the staircase area and screamed.
This was not the last of Phui's perverted antics.
Just nine days after this encounter, Phui molested a 28-year-old factory worker by putting his hand through her bedroom window.
He was walking along the second-storey common corridor at about 5.20am when he noticed the window, which the sleeping victim had left open for ventilation.
He put in his hand to touch her, but did not succeed at first. Trying again, he managed to touch her lower left leg, shocking the woman, who woke to see Phui's hand on her limb.
She shouted at him and he immediately withdrew his hand and walked away.
A CCTV outside the woman's unit captured the incident.
On June 6 last year, he was caught trying to burn a stack of newspapers outside a third-storey unit in Block 410, Saujana Road, in Bukit Panjang.
A man who had stepped out of his relative's flat at about 11pm saw what Phui was doing and shouted at him.
Phui ignored the man and fled down a staircase, but the man managed to take a picture of him. In his haste, Phui also left a sandal behind.
The man called the police, who managed to track Phui down.
In court yesterday, Phui, who was in a turquoise T-shirt and a black vest, was accompanied by his parents, who sat at the back of the public gallery in court.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Gabriel Choong asked for a 12-month sentence, given how the "most serious" of the three outrage of modesty offences involved a 14-year-old girl. He also asked for caning.
In mitigation, Phui's lawyer, Mr Gary Teo, asked for just one stroke of the cane for his client, who is facing the punishment for the first time.
"He is of low intelligence, (so) one stroke (of the) cane would be enough to give him a sufficient lesson," Mr Teo said.
A previous medical report revealed Phui to have poor impulse control and subnormal intelligence, though he was fit to plea.
In passing sentence, District Judge Matthew Joseph said that in molesting the 14-year-old victim, Phui has turned the lift, a public place meant to be safe, into a scene of terror.
He also noted that Phui had a previous conviction for outrage of modesty, in 2006.
After Phui had been sentenced, his lawyer asked that the sentence to be deferred to Feb 24, after Chinese New Year. The district judge agreed and Phui will have to surrender himself at 11.30am on Feb 24.
His bail has been increased from $10,000 to $15,000.
This article was first published on Feb 11, 2015.
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