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Mon, Aug 30, 2010
The New Paper
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Divorced but he goes to ex's flat for shower & laundry
by Vivien Chan

IT WAS a physical tussle. He was half-naked and she was pinned beneath him. She then cried molest; he claimed to have been provoked. They took their accusations to court.

The encounter that led to them going to court took place last December.

The couple, who had been married for almost 17 years, were divorced in April last  year and the couple’s life after divorce continued to be one of intense hatred for each other.

The man had moved out of their flat the following month, but he returned often to see their son, have showers and do his laundry.

Last December, he went to the flat to take a shower and left the toilet door open because the bathroom light was out of order.

The woman was uncomfortable about seeing her ex-husband naked.

She called a friend to complain about him, saying that he was an “idiot”. The man overheard her and the couple got into a scuffle during which, according to her, he touched her on the chest.

The woman applied for a personal protection order (PPO) against him two days  later. He, too, applied for one, but it was not granted.

Personal protection order
A PPO is issued if the Family Court is
satisfied that family violence has been
committed or if someone is at risk of family
violence, and a member of the family needs
to be restrained.
Domestic exclusion order
The DEO takes it a step further – by barring
the abuser from the home or parts of the
home – to protect the person at risk.

The couple have a young adopted son.

The court was told that their marriage had been rocky for some time and the couple had been sleeping separately for years, even before the divorce.

The woman told the court that at about 8.30pm on Dec 15, her ex-husband went to the flat and was about to take a shower.

He removed his shirt, but still had his trousers on. Seeing that the bathroom door was not closed, she demanded that he shut it as “she felt uncomfortable with the situation since they were no longer husband and wife”. When he replied that the light bulb in the bathroom was out of order, she called her friend on her mobile phone and described him as an“idiot” to her friend.

Hearing this, he came out of the bathroom and asked for her friend’s name. When she refused to give him the name and walked away, he followed her and tried to grab her phone.

The woman said that in the struggle, her ex-husband pressed his bare upper body against her upper body and forcefully held her down. She also said that he pressed his hands against her breastand over her chest.

He released her only after he got hold of the mobile phone, but soon returned it  to her as the phone screen was damaged during the tussle. The wife said that she “felt molested”.

She also said she experienced pain and minor bruising on her chest and was “so traumatised” that she went into herbedroom immediately to call the police.

The man, on the other hand, claimed that he was preparing to take his bath that day when his ex-wife switched off the passageway light “with the intention of provoking him”.

He said that he had switched it on as the bathroom light was out of order. When he did that, the wife again turned it off.

He told the court that he did not protest and decided to close the bathroom door as he “did not want to fall into (her) trap of irritating and provoking him”.

But as he was closing the door, he heard her calling him an“idiot” to her friend on her mobile phone.

He asked her for the friend’s name, but she refused to reveal the name.

He followed her and managed to grab her phone from her hand.

He denied struggling with her for it and claimed that his body was never on hers. He also denied molesting her.

But Judge Brenda Tan found the woman’s account to be more probable and that the man had committed an act of family violence against her. She said: “If what the husband said was true, then it was unlikely that the wife needed to turn to her friend to complain about him and to call him names.”

The judge also disbelieved his evidence that there was no contact between the two.
She said: “The husband’s story is not convincing. It is hard to believe that there was no struggle...The wife was determined to hold on to her handphone while the husband was equally bent on taking her handphone.”

She noted that the screen of the phone was damaged during the encounter.

The judge added that the wife’s subsequent conduct of calling the police, lodging a police report the next day and filing the PPO application was “clearly that of a person who had been greatly distressed”.

The husband’s behaviour after the incident appeared to be more of a reaction to the wife’s PPO application, said the judge.

PPO for son
The husband had also applied for a PPO for their son after alleging that his ex-wife displayed anger towards the boyand confined him against his will. He also alleged that she caused him mental anguish by preventing him from seeing their son.

But the judge found no evidence of his allegations, and said that both parties had  “differences in their parenting styles”.

The wife had also applied for a domestic exclusion order (DEO) against the husband to bar him from their matrimonial home. But Judge Tan felt that  the PPO was sufficient protection for her.

“The fact that the wife is annoyed and irritated by the presence of the husband is not a good ground for the court to exclude the husband from his home.”

On when DEOs may be granted, lawyer Amolat Singh told The New Paper: “Usually, when the spouse can show that there have been repeated breaches of the PPO.”

Unhappy over the dismissal of his two PPO applications, the ex-husband is appealing against the judge’s decision.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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