SINGAPORE — A man who rented a date with an older woman choked her till she lost consciousness in order to smell her feet, and filmed the incident.
While the two were at an isolated stairwell in Changi Airport, Cheong Jia Jin, 24, used a rear naked choke on the victim, a move he had learnt from a martial arts course. He filmed the incident as she struggled and considered molesting her.
The 37-year-old woman awoke seconds later to find her head on Cheong’s lap. She fled and sought help from a driver. She cannot be named due to a gag order protecting her identity.
Cheong was sentenced to eight months’ jail on Wednesday (5 January) after he pleaded guilty to one count of voluntarily causing hurt to the woman, with one count of attempted outrage of modesty considered for his sentencing.
Rented date online
In October 2020, Cheong, a student, booked a date with the victim via “maybe.sg” and later contacted her via Instagram.
On 26 October, the two met for their date and explored Changi Jurassic Mile for slightly over an hour. At about 7.30pm, Cheong brought the victim to a staircase landing within Terminal 4 of Changi Airport and told her he wanted to record a TikTok video with her.
While climbing the stairs, he opened the door at each level to check that there was no one else around.
At level four, Cheong placed his mobile phone on a cabinet containing a fire extinguisher to record the video. He then decided to choke the woman until she fainted so that he could smell her feet. He had a foot fetish, according to the prosecution.
Cheong then positioned the victim so that she was facing the wall with her back to the camera before pressing the record button.
He then wrapped his right forearm around her neck to perform a rear naked choke. He knew that there was a risk she could die from the move.
“The victim struggled for around 15 seconds, trying in vain to grab something to break free, before she became unconscious,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Norine Tan. Most of the assault was captured on the video, which was played in court.
After she fainted, Cheong laid her on the ground and wanted to touch her breasts. However he only lifted her shirt to her belly button.
Victim fled in fear
A few seconds later, the victim regained consciousness and found the back of her head on Cheong’s lap. She got to her feet, collected her belongings and ran down the staircase in fear.
She then ran towards a car and sought help from a driver, saying that someone was trying to kill her. She made a police report at the advice of the driver.
The victim was sent to Changi General Hospital and was found with a bruise around her neck area and knee. She also felt pain while swallowing. She was given four days of medical leave.
Cheong did not post the video he had filmed. He was later contacted by the police and agreed to surrender himself. He was remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for psychiatric observation from 28 October to 11 November 2020.
The ensuing IMH report found that while Cheong had a history of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, he no longer experienced symptoms as an adult. He also did not have any major mental illness and did not fulfil the criteria for fetishistic disorder.
Since the attack, the victim has suffered from anxiety and panic attacks, including symptoms of numbness and cold sweats.
She visited a general practitioner due to her symptoms and was referred to a heart specialist to rule out any heart issues. She was later referred to a Chinese physician for further treatment.
Mitigating for Cheong, his lawyer Cory Wong said that his client did not premeditate the offences. While Cheong had checked the staircase landing for other people, he had done so as he did not want his TikTok video interrupted.
Wong pointed out that his client had only formed the intention to choke her when he was about to press the record button.
The lawyer added that there was no evidence of the victim’s degree of psychological impact from an expert psychiatric report.
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