A 55-year-old man was jailed 12 months for asking a 13-year-old boy to perform oral sex on him after they contacted each other through a gay dating app.
When the two met, the married man was concerned the boy looked younger than he claimed to be, but still proceeded to commit the offence in his car.
The man, who is a father of an 18-year-old boy, was sentenced in the State Courts on Tuesday (16 January) after he pleaded guilty to one charge of sexual penetration of a minor under 14. A second charge of transmitting an obscene image to a male under the age of 21 was taken into consideration.
Both the man and the boy cannot be identified due to a gag order.
The court heard that the man sent the boy a message on the gay dating app Grindr on 18 December 2016 and the two began communicating via the app. They agreed to meet up later on the same day to engage in sexual activities.
When asked about his age, the boy told the man that he was 16. The man requested for proof of his age but the boy informed the man that he did not have any documents to verify.
The man offered to send the victim home to get proof of his age but the boy insisted he was over 16. The man then suggested meeting another day.
The boy then asked a friend who was 16 years old to send him a photo of the friend’s EZ-link card. The friend then sent the boy a photo of the card, which showed only a date of birth, with the name, IC number and photo blanked out. The boy then forwarded this photo to the man, and they agreed to go ahead with their meeting.
The man picked the boy up in his car at 5.30pm at Crawford Lane. Upon seeing the boy in person, the man thought he looked young. He asked the boy again if he was 16, and the boy said he was. They then proceeded to a multi-storey car park at North Bridge Road.
The man lifted up the front bonnet of the car and covered the windows with window shades. Inside the car, the man asked the boy to perform oral sex on him.
A Cisco officer patrolling the area noticed something suspicious about the car and knocked on the window. When he saw what the two were doing, he called the police.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) James Chew sought a jail term of at least 12 months to be imposed on the man.
“The accused operated under an honest mistake but the accused is expected to take prudence and due diligence in compliance with the law,” said DPP Chew.
Although the man did attempt to verify the boy’s age, this should not be a mitigating factor that would drastically alter the sentence, said DPP Chew. The photo provided by the boy could not be considered good, and that the man’s decision showed “selective ignorance”, he added.
When the man saw the boy in person and suspected he looked younger than he had claimed, he still decided to take a risk based on what the boy told him, the prosecutor said. “If an adult decides to take the risk with a minor, he has to bear the consequences,” he added.
Asking for leniency, the man’s lawyer, T. M. Sinnadurai, sought a jail term of 10 months. Sinnadurai said this was his client’s first brush with the law and that he pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
The offence was not prolonged and there was no coercion or harm caused to the victim, said Sinnadurai. The man also told the court he had been using the app for about a year but had since deleted it.
During sentencing, District Judge (DJ) Imran Abdul Hamid said that if the man suspected the victim was young, he should have verified the boy’s age. “If it rings alarm bells in your head, break off the transaction,” said DJ Imran.
For sexual penetration of a minor under 14, the maximum punishment is a jail term of up to 20 years, and a fine or caning.
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