Rape trial: Drunk woman could have given consent, says expert

Rape trial: Drunk woman could have given consent, says expert
Posed photo.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

She may have been heavily intoxicated but the woman at the centre of an abduction and rape trial could still have given consent, a forensic psychiatrist testifying for the defence told the High Court yesterday.

The woman was a 22-year-old intern working for a food and beverage company when she met Ong Soon Heng, 40. Ong was a friend of the company's owners.

She was at Zouk with colleagues and Ong when he allegedly plied her with drinks before driving her to his home in Hume Heights, where he raped her in the early hours of July 24, 2014.

Dr Tommy Tan said although the woman had consumed a lot of alcohol, she could still have spoken and agreed to sex. He said despite not being entirely sober, the woman would have been aware of her surroundings and might have known Ong removed her clothes, reported evening daily Shin Min Daily News.

Read also: Man acquitted of raping lover's daughter; no photos taken of alleged crime scene

Dr Tan was responding to defence lawyer Peter Fernando's questions.

Her judgment would have been impaired and Dr Tan said she would not have considered the consequences of going to bed with Ong while she had a boyfriend.

Ong, who took the stand last Friday and on Tuesday, had also claimed it was the woman who wanted to go to his house.

CCTV footage from the club showed the woman throwing up, unable to stand, and having to be helped out of the establishment. Ong agreed she may have passed out, but could still be roused. Wanting to ensure her safety, he took her to his place. He then helped her into a room where they started kissing, and she did not reject him when they had sex, he claimed, adding that she previously told him she enjoyed spending time with him.

Ong said he and the woman were having an affair, reported Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao. Ong's housemate and another friend testified that Ong and the woman appeared to have an intimate relationship.

Read also: Immunity for marital rape being reviewed

The defence team also disputed the alcohol concentration found in the woman's blood. She was found to have a blood alcohol concentration level at the time she was at Ong's house of between 210.50mg and 254.50mg per 100ml of blood. By way of comparison, the legal limit for driving is 80mg per 100ml.

Dr Tan yesterday estimated a lower blood alcohol concentration level of 178.25mg per 100ml of blood, said Shin Min Daily.

The incident came to light after the woman's boyfriend tracked her down to Ong's home at about 6.30am using a mobile phone tracking app. Despite never being uncontactable in the course of their three-year relationship, she went silent on her mobile phone the night of the incident, her 28-year-old boyfriend told the High Court on April 6. When he saw her, she was lying in a stupor on Ong's mattress. She could barely open her eyes, he said.


This article was first published on Apr 13, 2017.
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