Singapore

British trio on rape trial plead guilty to reduced charges

Three British nationals who went on trial two weeks ago for taking turns to rape a Malaysian woman in Carlton Hotel pleaded guilty to aggravated molestation yesterday after taking a week to consider the reduced charges.

Khong Tam Thanh, 22, Vu Thai Son, 24, and Michael Le, 24, admitted outraging the woman's modesty by having sex with her while wrongfully restraining her in the early hours of Sept 10 last year.

Thanh and Son also each admitted to a second charge of outrage of modesty by committing another sexual act on the woman, who was then 22 years old.

They are expected to be sentenced today. The punishment for aggravated molestation is between two and 10 years' jail and caning. It was not mentioned in court why the charges were reduced, in what appears to be a plea deal.

The trio, who are of Vietnamese descent, were part of a group of friends who flew to Singapore on Sept 9 to throw a stag party and attend a music festival. They had booked three rooms at the hotel.

On the night they arrived, they went clubbing at Zouk, where one of them, Mr Trinh Viet Anh, 24, struck up a conversation with the woman.

She suggested going to Mr Anh's hotel room, where they had consensual sex, after which she fell asleep.

At about 4am, Mr Anh let Thanh into the room while he left to join the others in another room. One after another, Thanh, Son and Le had sex with the woman.

While Le was having sex with her, she woke up and demanded to know who he was.

She pushed him away and covered herself with a blanket, allegedly telling him that she would never have agreed to have sex with someone as ugly as him.

CONFRONTED

She confronted Mr Anh when he returned but he claimed to have no knowledge of what had happened.

She then texted a friend, who picked her up and took her to his flat to rest. She decided to lodge a police report the same day.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor G. Kannan sought six years' jail for Le and seven years' jail for Thanh and Son.

All three submitted letters apologising to the woman.

In his letter, Thanh offered the woman $5,000. His lawyer, Mr Shashi Nathan, said it was to show his genuine contrition.

Mr Kalidass Murugaiyan, representing Son, noted that he had come to Singapore not to commit a crime but for a social purpose.

Mr Ramesh Tiwary, representing Le, highlighted that he was the first to indicate his desire to plead guilty once the charges were amended by the prosecution, which spared the woman from having to testify.

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