In a shocking incident, Neo Aik Chiao, a 47-year-old RSAF lieutenant-colonel and helicopter pilot, admitted to molesting a 21-year-old female student at a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) dormitory in 2022. This troubling event came to light during his court appearance on January 10, 2024, according to The Straits Times.
Neo, known for flying helicopters, including the Chinook, had been suspended from all duties by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) following the charges. The suspension took place after Neo was charged in November 2023, with the Ministry of Defence emphasizing a careful assessment of findings before deciding on further action.
Neo pleaded guilty to one count of using criminal force with the intent to outrage the modesty of the young woman and another count for criminal trespass. The incident occurred on a floor exclusively designated for female students, raising serious concerns about safety and security within the university.
The incident transpired on November 13, 2022, when Neo entered the victim’s room without permission. The victim’s identity is protected by a gag order, ensuring confidentiality. Neo faces a second criminal trespass charge, to be considered during his sentencing scheduled for February 21, 2024.
The victim, lying on her bed at around 2 am, was interrupted when Neo knocked on her door. Without waiting for a response, Neo entered, locked the door, and sat on her bed. He claimed exhaustion, having climbed many stairs. Neo proceeded to make inappropriate requests, including asking for a drink and soliciting the victim’s company for financial gain.
Neo’s persistence escalated, and he touched the victim’s thigh despite her objections. The victim, feeling uncomfortable, asked him to leave. Neo’s actions intensified as he touched her arm, continuing his inappropriate advances. The victim, in fear, finally managed to make him leave the room by calling a friend for help.
Legal Proceedings and Defense
Deputy Public Prosecutor Wong Shiau Yin argued for a jail sentence of at least 12 weeks, emphasizing the severity of committing the offense on private property during the early hours. Neo’s defense proposed a fine of approximately $10,000, citing the incident as uncharacteristic and a one-time occurrence.
Neo’s lawyers, Mr. Sunil Sudheesan and Ms. Joyce Khoo, from Quahe Woo & Palmer, presented a defense stating that Neo, an NTU alumnus, sought emotional comfort at the university, a place filled with fond memories, following the death of his godfather on June 30, 2022.
A report from the Institute of Mental Health indicated that Neo was intoxicated during the offense, with a possible link between his intoxication and loss of restraint. However, the report clarified that Neo was not of unsound mind at the time.
For using criminal force intending to outrage modesty, Neo faces a potential sentence of up to two years, including fines, caning, or a combination of these punishments. The charge of criminal trespass could result in a jail term of up to three months, a fine of up to $1,500, or both.