F&B chain Beef Bro co-founder, 26, found guilty of sexually assaulting drunk girl, 19

The judge found Tan's testimonies to be an "afterthought concocted as a defence to his charges".

Gawain Pek | July 15, 2022, 10:58 PM

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The High Court found 26-year-old Norvan Tan En Jie, co-founder of Singapore eatery Beef Bro, guilty of two charges of sexual assault by penetration and two charges of outrage of modesty on Jul. 15.

Tan pleaded not guilty to all four charges on Sep. 29, 2020.

What happened

The assault took place on Christmas night in 2016, when the victim was 19.

The victim is a primary school friend of Tan's sister, and cannot be named due to a gag order.

The offender's sister and the victim arrived at the Tans' home at about 5:40am after a night of drinking.

Tan and his friends were in his room at the time. He left his room at his sister's request as she wanted to have a private conversation with his friend, and found the victim throwing up in the toilet.

The victim testified that he kissed her while in the toilet, then brought her to a room where he put her on the bed. He then touched her breast and inserted his fingers into her.

The offender sodomised the victim when she ran back to the toilet to vomit again.

In the immediate aftermath, the victim felt “confusion and distress” and confided in various parties about her suspicions that Tan sexually assaulted her.

Tan's sister eventually told her that Tan had confessed to the assault, and the victim made a police report on Dec. 27, 2016.

Defence's case unconvincing

Laying out his arguments for the conviction, Justice Ang Cheng Hock was unconvinced by the defence's arguments, Today reported.

Today reported that the judge highlighted the testimony of an analyst from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) who gave evidence that Tan's semen was found on the back of the t-shirt which the victim was wearing during the assault.

The defence argued alternate possibilities as to how the semen could have ended up on the victim's t-shirt, such as it being transferred from the toilet floor or wall, or from articles of clothing in the laundry basket where police seized the t-shirt.

Tan also testified that he had previously had sex with his then-girlfriend in the toilet, which would explain why his semen was found there.

According to Today, Ang stated that the defence did not call in experts to testify on the possibility of Tan's semen transferred between physical surfaces despite asserting that this was the case.

According to CNA, Tan claimed that he had been in the kitchen smoking when he heard a thud and went to toilet to investigate.

It was then when he claimed to have found the victim lying on the floor.

According to the offender, he left the toilet after helping her sit up with her back against the wall.

Today reported that Ang found the victim's accounts convincing and consistent with other evidence presented in the case.

For example, testimony from the HSA analyst corroborated with the victim's account that she was sexually assaulted from the back.

Tan's sister gave false statements in court to help her brother

The judge rejected oral evidence given by Tan's sister, who claimed that she lied in her police statements and to the victim about Tan having committed the assault.

Justice Ang found that there was “no sensible reason for her to make false accusations against her brother”, or any suggestion of a “strained relationship” to support that argument, Today reported.

Instead, he found the police statements and text messages by Tan’s sister to contain the truth, and called it "obvious" that Tan's sister had made her statements to help her brother's case in court.

While the defence argued that Tan's sister was trying to frame Tan, Justice Ang found that they did not provide supporting evidence to back the claim.

Tan's statements "concocted" afterthought

It was also reported that Justice Ang found Tan’s account of events in his oral evidence to be a “concocted” afterthought.

He noted that the statements Tan made to the police lacked details.

Tan must have known it did not suffice for him to just “deny the accusations”, but instead be as detailed as possible, the judge argued.

According to The Straits Times (ST), the judge also highlighted text messages sent by Tan to his girlfriend in which he told her that he could not "accept the truth" and wanted to run away.

Sentencing adjourned to August

Tan's bail was raised from S$50,000 to S$75,000.

His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 5.

For sexual assault by penetration, he could be jailed up to 20 years and fined or caned.

For molestation, Tan can be jailed up to two years, fined, caned, or receive any combination of the three punishments.

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Top image via Google Map, Norvan Tan/Facebook