On 3 April, a 26-year-old man was sentenced to 17 years’ jail and 14 strokes of the cane after pleading guilty to multiple sexual assault charges against his flatmate. He had spiked her water with a drug he bought online and attempted to rape her. Thankfully, she caught him red-handed when he tried it a second time. Their Background The victim, also 26, had been platonic friends with the accused since 2015 when they attended the same university in Malaysia. The accused had a girlfriend who also attended university with them. Later, in May 2019, the victim and the accused got jobs in Singapore at the same hotel, working as front desk executives. They then stayed in the same flat together, albeit renting different rooms. The accused’s girlfriend also worked in Singapore, often staying over or joining them for meals. However, this did not deter him from his heinous acts against his flatmate. The victim was advised by her doctor to drink more water, and he took advantage of the opportunity, often offering her glasses of water in the evening. His Crimes Toward the end of 2019 and the start of 2020, the man decided to make his sexual fantasies reality. He purchased a bottle of a liquid drug, gamma-butyrolactone, through messaging platform WeChat. It cost him RM200, or SGD$60. Gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), at room temperature, is a water-miscible liquid that can be used in cleaning solutions of nail polish. In the body, however, GBL is converted to gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), a fast-acting date-rape drug that can cause confusion, sedation, reduced inhibition and a loss of consciousness. Stopped in the Nick of Time The accused spiked the victim’s water with the drug, who unsuspectingly drank it. While she was drugged and drifting in and out of sedation, he sexually violated her on her bed. However, when he attempted to rape her, she suddenly told him to stop, sitting up in a moment of consciousness. He denied doing anything and left the room, and she fell back into a sedated state. When she woke up the following day, she saw her panties on her floor and suspected something was amiss, but the drug left her with only vague memories of the incident. Caught Trusting the accused because of their close friendship, she did not confront him. However, her suspicions about him grew. On 29 March 2020, when the accused offered her another spiked glass of water, she did not consume it. This time, she poured it out of the window and set the empty cup somewhere he could see it, pretending that she had already consumed the drug. Later, she feigned sleep when he entered her room, even when he shone a light on her face. Assured she was asleep, he climbed onto her bed and attempted to rape her, but she stopped him by grabbing his arms and confronting him. He continued to deny malicious intent, telling her he had intended to put a blanket over her, and quickly left the room. Even after this, he continued to assure her of his innocence through text messages they exchanged. Considering their close ties, the victim was on the fence about reporting him to the police, shocked that he would harm her. She eventually did so because she feared for her safety. Arrest & Sentence He was arrested on the morning of 30 March 2020. On 4 April, he was sentenced to 17 years’ jail and 14 strokes of the cane, for the charges of attempted aggravated rape, sexual assault by penetration, and causing the victim to take an intoxicating substance to facilitate a crime. In sentencing him, four other charges were taken into account. He cannot be named due to a gag order protecting the victim’s identity. Living With A Flatmate Living together with a flatmate can be challenging, even if you’re close to the person in question. Under the recent Joint Singles Scheme Operator-Run Pilot (JSS-OR), singles applying are matched up with a stranger who they’ll have to live together with. Tensions ran high in some of these flats, with one even saying that his roommate regularly urinated on his bed and refused to solve the problem, despite intervention from site operators and social workers. Still, the scheme offers affordable rent, community support options, and support from housemates in some cases.