An Uber driver who was found guilty of indecently assaulting a drunk female passenger he was driving home is appealing his sentence and conviction, with the hearing coming less than a week after another driver found himself in court on charges of sexual misconduct.
Lam Cheuk-yin, 37 was sentenced to nine months in jail last year, and his appeal against the sentence was heard at the High Court yesterday morning.
According to Ming Pao, the incident in question took place in the very early hours of the morning of Nov. 5, 2017, when an 18-year-old woman hailed an Uber from Ma On Shan to her home in Cheung Sha Wan. The woman reported feeling impaired after having drank a modest amount of alcohol earlier.
During the drive, Lam allegedly asked the woman for a kiss, but she refused.
They made a quick stop at a gas station near the victim’s destination so that she could buy water and use the bathroom, but when she got back in the car, Lam drove her to a secluded spot and began to forcefully kiss her, touching her breasts, thighs, hips, and buttocks before driving her home.
The police were alerted after the victim returned home and told her mother what had happened.
A lawyer representing Lam sought to attack the victim’s credibility in a line of defense that bordered on victim-blaming yesterday, on.cc reports.
The defender characterized the victim’s testimony as conflicting, maintaining she said at one point that Lam was a “lecher” who made her fearful, but at another point that she felt he could be trusted after he took her to the gas station to buy water.
He also questioned whether the victim had really been affected by the alcohol, and why she stayed in the car even after being allegedly assaulted by Lam. He went on to argue that the victim’s actions “ignored common sense,” adding that Lam believed she had consented and therefore the conviction should be quashed.
A lawyer from the Department of Justice, however, challenged the defender’s rationale, noting that the victim was very young, that she had been driven to a secluded place at the time of the alleged assault, and that it was very late at night. Therefore it was unreasonable to expect her to get out of the car.
The judge adjourned the case, and Lam is currently free on bail pending a result.
Yesterday’s appeal hearing comes just days after another Uber driver found himself in court over indecent sexual behavior. The driver confessed in court on Thursday to having taken nearly 900 upskirt videos of passengers using two hidden cameras concealed in his vehicle. The cameras were discovered by police during a traffic stop.
Both cases come as Uber is locked into a protracted battle with the city’s taxi industry over its legal standing in the SAR.