Spurned woman harassed ex-colleague

Spurned woman harassed ex-colleague

A former female relief teacher persisted in making advances on a teaching intern after their friendship soured despite facing several harassment reports.

Poh Sim Ying, 27, resorted to using criminal force on the 25-year-old female victim in April and pleaded guilty to two charges in court on Wednesday.

The court heard that Poh happened to be in the same bus as the younger woman when she tried to gain the victim's attention by touching her hair and hands, and caressed her waist.

When the victim alighted from the bus along Commonwealth Avenue, Poh tailed her. The victim, who cannot be named due to a gag order, flagged down and entered a taxi but Poh forced her way in. The taxi driver then told both women to leave the vehicle.

Poh continued to follow the victim, who then activated a handheld personal safety alarm. The accused managed to grab the device, forcing the victim to seek safety by walking towards a nearby bus stop.

Undeterred, Poh continued to touch the victim and tried to kiss her at the bus stop despite the presence of other people there.

Investigation showed that the victim had lodged several harassment reports to the police against Poh from September last year to April this year.

The pair met last year when they were both teaching in the same school and became friends.

But their relationship soured and Poh had to leave the school after the victim complained to the principal about Poh's harassment. Subsequently, Poh's application to study at the National Institute of Education was rejected.

Pleading for leniency on Wednesday, Poh's lawyer Louis Joseph said she had undergone psychiatric counselling at Raffles Hospital and realised her actions were "inappropriate" and "unwelcome".

He tendered several testimonials in court to show that the science graduate, who also has a polytechnic diploma, was a responsible and hard-working student.

Mr Joseph said Poh, who is now a tuition teacher, admitted to harassing and being a nuisance to the victim and deeply regretted her actions. "The accused became depressed as she could not cope with the loss of the career she has been passionate about all her life," he added.

Community Court Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan called for a report to assess Poh's suitability for a mandatory treatment order on Nov 21. If recommended, Poh will avoid having to serve a jail sentence but has to seek psychiatric treatment for up to 12 months.

elena@sph.com.sg


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