SINGAPORE — An intoxicated French national taking a mall lift with a 13-year-old boy verbally abused the teen by asking him lewd questions, including whether he had hair on his genitals.
Without any provocation, 44-year-old Vu Han Jean-Luc Kha punched the teen on his temple before hurling profanities at him. The teen was accompanied by his 12-year-old brother, who witnessed the assault.
Vu Han, chief executive officer of The Prive Group, pleaded guilty to using insulting words against the teen and one count of causing him hurt.
In mitigation, his lawyer said that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was suffering from a manic episode at the time of the offences. His case was adjourned to clarify if and how his psychiatric illness had contributed to his offending. His sentencing will be heard on 14 December.
The victim and his younger brother cannot be named as their identities are protected under the Children and Young Persons Act.
Repeated verbal abuse and physical assault
On the night of 22 November 2019, the teenager and his younger brother were at their father’s office on level 10 of Parklane Shopping Mall. They decided to go downstairs for dinner, and entered an empty lift from the 10th storey.
Meanwhile, Vu Han, who had been drinking beforehand at Jade KTV with a friend, entered the lift with his friend, a 41-year-old man, at the fifth storey of the building.
The intoxicated man saw the victim, and asked if he had hair on his privates. The victim replied no.
Vu Han then asked the victim, “Do you want to see mine?” The victim again replied no.
Vu Han refused to relent, and told the victim that he could arrange a sexual act for the teen, who said no again.
Without warning, the Frenchman punched the teen on his left temple, causing the victim to fall backwards and slam his left upper arm into the elevator’s handrails. He then verbally abused the boy, who grabbed at his hands to prevent further assaults.
Vu Han continued his verbal abuse, saying, "You want to challenge me? You have no hair on your (privates), why do you want to challenge me?” Meanwhile, his friend also tried to hold him back.
The lift stopped at the first storey and Vu Han’s friend pushed Vu Han out. Vu Han, however, refused to leave and used his foot to stop the lift doors from closing. He then turned to the victim, slapped his left cheek and pushed him.
A passer-by witnessed the altercation and asked the victim what had happened. He then detained Vu Han at the mall’s main entrance and called the police.
The victim was sent to the hospital and found to have bruises on his temple and arm. He has since become fearful of taking lifts, has flashbacks of the incident and is unable to sleep well, said the prosecution, which asked for at least eight weeks' jail with a fine.
Lawyer says accused was facing 'rough patch'
Vu Han's lawyer Teh Ee-Von described her client's circumstances as "unique" as he was "facing a rough patch" having separated from his common-law wife of 20 years. Vu Han had to adjust to single parenthood and cope with pressure from his business. He was also "experiencing certain uncharacteristic changes in the way his body functioned", said the lawyer without elaborating.
On the day of the offence, Vu Han had been worried and irritable due to his circumstances and had met some friends in Jade KTV in Parklane Shopping Mall. At around 8pm, he then went with a friend to a cafe on the fifth floor for dinner. After dinner, Vu Han and his friend had headed into the lift and discussed vice activities in KTV lounges.
"He is unable to recall clearly but the victim said something to him and he was unable to recall what the victim said, it triggered the accused and he became agitated that to his ... regret he reacted in a disproportionate manner," said the lawyer, who added that Vu Han could not remember what he said to the victim.
Teh said that Vu Han had a relatively traumatic and difficult childhood, and moved to Singapore in 2009 with his wife, who was abusive and constantly blamed and humiliated him. As the CEO of a food-and-beverages company, he had over 100 staff under his supervision and had to deal with six new projects within a year.
His recent offences prompted Vu Han to see a psychiatrist. He was first diagnosed with adjustment disorder, however when the treatment did not improve his condition, he visited the Institute of Mental Health where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder on 26 February this year.
Teh argued that Vu Han was experiencing a manic episode which impaired his judgment, and asked the judge to call for a Mandatory Treatment Order suitability report for her client.
Vu Han has since offered compensation to the victim, but it was rejected by his parents.
A marketing manager from The Prive Group confirmed that Vu Han is still the company's CEO and is "actively taking care of the group and helping us stay afloat amidst the ongoing COVID restrictions".
"Mr Vu Han Jean-Luc Kha remains a valuable member of our management team and has our full and unwavering support. The case is still ongoing and we have been advised not to comment on the case," the manager added.
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