Worker doing flat upgrading ended up molesting student

A construction worker who was carrying out upgrading work at an HDB flat, but ended up molesting a 20-year-old student who lived there, was yesterday jailed for seven months after losing his appeal.

Bangladeshi national Khalek Abdul, 36, had contested a charge of outraging the victim's modesty by kissing her on the neck and grabbing her breast at her Yishun flat at around noon on July 14 last year. No one else was home at the time.

Khalek did not deny physical contact with the victim but claimed he had touched her accidentally.

During his trial in February, he testified that he had tripped on the wire of his electric drill and fell on her. He said he did not know which part of her body he had touched, or whether his lips had touched her neck.

In April, he was found guilty and handed a seven-month jail term by a district judge who did not believe his version of events. Khalek, represented by Mr S.K. Kumar, appealed against the conviction and sentence yesterday, but the High Court was similarly not persuaded.

Khalek's job was to install grab bars in the toilets of the victim's flat as part of an upgrading project.

The victim testified that after he had finished, Khalek asked her to help unplug the drill from the socket in the master bedroom. As she did so, he stood close behind and rubbed himself against her.

After she pushed him away, Khalek held out his hand. The handshake led to a hug that went on for "a bit too long", so she pulled away and gestured for him to leave the room.

After exiting, Khalek gestured towards the study, which had a mattress, and asked her: "You want?"

At this point, the victim said she felt "something was really wrong" and led him to the main door.

At the door, Khalek held his arms open for another hug. She hugged him, thinking it would make him leave. But as she moved back, he kissed the side of her neck and grabbed her breast. The victim said she felt "assaulted, very clearly offended and kind of terrified".

As she closed the door, Khalek told her to call him if there was anything wrong. After making sure he was gone, she called her father, who called the police.

Khalek was arrested later that day and admitted that he hugged and kissed the victim and touched her breast. He sought forgiveness and asked to be given a chance.

However, during his trial, he alleged that he had been threatened into making these admissions by the Bengali interpreter.

These claims were dismissed by the district judge after hearing from the interpreter.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Soo Tet asked the court to dismiss Khalek's appeal, noting that the victim was a "cogent, credible and consistent" witness who had given a candid account without embellishment.


This article was first published on Dec 29, 2016.
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