He sees friend raping woman but does nothing

SINGAPORE - He was woken up by the sound of a woman screaming. She was trying to fight off his friend, who was raping her in the bedroom.

But Mr George Tan Xiang Long did nothing to help the victim.

Even when she later locked herself in a toilet and shouted for help, Mr Tan did not help or call the police. Instead, he forced open the toilet door and told the victim and the rapist to leave the flat.

His friend, Lim Jia Yi, 23, was sentenced on Wednesday to eight years' jail and eight strokes of the cane for raping the woman last year.

The woman, now 25, cannot be named as she is the victim of a sex crime.

The High Court heard that she befriended Lim, who was a full-time national serviceman, in April or May 2011, at a drinking session in a pub. They then met two or three times to smoke at the void deck of her block.

Lim asked her to go for a drinking session at about 10.30pm on Jan 10 last year. It was the first time they had gone out together.

Together with Lim's friend, Mr Larry Ng Teck Meng, and his girlfriend, they went to Barbarella pub at Sembawang Road and drank beer.

They left at about 1am to go to Club Nana in Central Mall, where they had more drinks and danced.

They left in a taxi at 3am and dropped Mr Ng's girlfriend off before heading to a Yishun flat, where Mr Ng shared a room with Mr Tan.

Mr Tan was asleep on the lower bunk of a double-decker bed. Mr Ng took out a mattress for Lim and the woman to rest on before turning off the lights and going to sleep on the upper bunk.

Lim then forced himself on top of his victim, covered her mouth with his hand and used the other to pull down her tights and panties.

She struggled and shouted for help, crying out: "Bu yao" ("don't want" in Mandarin). But Lim ignored her attempts to break free, even when she bit him, and raped her for about 10 minutes.

But her screams woke Mr Tan up. He saw the attack and did nothing, the court was told.

Two other occupants in the flat also heard her screams. Domestic helper Lucia Habah Sumaway and a tenant, Mr Chen Ze Hong, came out of their rooms to find out what was going on.

Ms Lucia knocked on the bedroom door but when there was no response, they went back to their rooms. After the rape, the woman asked to go to the toilet and Lim went with her. When she entered the toilet next to the kitchen, she locked herself inside.

She tried to find ways to escape as she feared having to return to the room, the court was told.

She then broke the glass panels of the windows, stuck her head out and screamed that she had been kidnapped.

An occupant in the flat below, Miss Amanda Wang, 20, heard her shouts and called the police.

Ms Lucia also heard the screams and alerted Mr Tan and Mr Ng. Mr Tan forced open the toilet door and told Lim and his victim to leave.

The woman then ran downstairs to the void deck and called the police.

The victim was examined in hospital that morning and found to have sustained a small bruise on her chin.

A toxicology report on her found 95mg per 100ml of ethanol in her blood. The legal limit for drink driving is 80mg per 100ml of ethanol in blood.

Effect of alcohol

But it would be hard to say how intoxicated she was as alcohol can affect two people differently, said Dr Madeleine Chew, the managing director at MW Medical Centre.

Lim's lawyers, Mr Josephus Tan and Mr Keith Lim, said in mitigation on Wednesday that there was no premeditation and that he had committed the offence in part due to his lack of control after drinking alcohol. No blood test was conducted on Lim after he was arrested.

The lawyers also noted his young age and his broken family, his parents having been separated for at least five years.

But Deputy Public Prosecutors Ng Yiwen and Lin Yinbing called the very act of rape "a violent crime, and an aggravating factor."

They also noted "the brazen manner in which Lim had committed the offence. He had no regard to the presence of George and Larry".

A spokesman for the Attorney-General's Chambers said there is no decision to prosecute anyone else other than Lim so far.

Asked about Mr Tan's failure to help the victim, lawyer Shashi Nathan said it is not always the case that doing nothing while a crime is being committed is in itself a crime.

"This isn't abetment, as that would mean he assisted in the rape," Mr Nathan, who was not involved in the case, said.

"Of course, morally and ethically, what he did was wrong and he should have called the police."

Psychologist Daniel Koh said there were several possibilities for Mr Tan's behaviour. Depending on the dynamics of his friendship with Lim, he may have felt that he couldn't do anything.

Another possibility is that Mr Tan, having just woken up, could simply have not been paying attention and was not aware of the rape.

Lim has previous convictions for committing an obscene act in a public place and for taking part in an unlawful assembly.

For committing rape, he could have been jailed up to 20 years, with a fine or caning.

wrennie@sph.com.sg

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