Bangladeshi given 17 years' jail and 24 strokes of caning for raping woman at MacRitchie

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The Bangladeshi construction worker who raped a woman at MacRitchie Reservoir was sentenced to 17 years’ jail and given the maximum 24 strokes of the cane at the High Court on Friday (19 May).

In sentencing Pramanik Liton, 24, who committed the offence on 8 February 2015, Justice Choo Han Teck highlighted the inconsistency of Liton’s testimony and the weight of evidence against him.

Liton was convicted on two counts of aggravated rape, one count of sexual assault by penetration and one count of abduction for the purpose of illicit intercourse.

He had raped the 40-year-old woman, a Chinese national, twice, and forced her to perform oral sex on him after threatening her with a knife. The victim’s name cannot be revealed due to a gag order.

According to the prosecution, Liton had accosted the victim and asked her to have sex with him while the victim was having a stroll by herself along the Lornie Trail of MacRitchie Reservoir Park around 1.45pm.

When the victim rejected him, Liton placed a knife against her neck and covered her nose and mouth. The victim blacked out at this point and was carried by Liton some 14 metres into a forested area.

The victim, who gained consciousness after being dropped to the ground, was then raped and sexually assaulted by Liton for nearly two hours. After the act, Liton threw the knife into another part of the forest before leaving.

The victim called her then-boyfriend and made a police report later that day. Gurkha trackers who were at the scene of crime found pieces of tissue that tested positive for Liton’s semen. The trackers also found the 16cm-long knife from which Liton’s fingerprint was lifted.

Liton was arrested on 10 February at a construction site.

In delivering the verdict, Justice Choo called Liton’s evidence “bizarre and incomprehensible”.

Liton, who testified on the stand on Thursday, claimed through an interpreter that he did not rape the woman as she had “died” after he had tried to scare her. The woman had given her testimony on the first day of the trial on Tuesday (16 May).

However, Justice Choo pointed out that Liton’s outright denial appeared to be a “defence of desperation” given the weight of the evidence against him.

Said Justice Choo, “You claimed that the woman, whom you had accosted, had died. Clearly, she had not or this would have been the world’s first supernatural trial.

“I see nothing supernatural, only a traumatised woman who has convinced me that you had committed the offences for which you had been tried.”

He added that Liton’s only possible defence was one of consensual sex but the victim’s evidence was “sufficient to convince” the judge that the act was not consensual.

Pointing out the inconsistencies of Liton’s testimony, Justice Choo said, “Only a credible account might have raised a doubt in your favour but we heard nothing near that.”

The prosecution, represented by Deputy Public Prosecutors Stella Tan and Sruthi Boppana, had asked for at least 20 years’ jail and 24 strokes of the cane, citing several aggravating factors.

Calling Liton’s act “heinous”, the prosecution pointed out that the offences were premeditated.

Said DPP Tan, “The accused had left his dormitory on the morning of the incidents, armed with the knife. Like a predator, he lay in wait, just after the 2km mark from the entrance of the Lornie Trail, for a prey to be dragged into the forested area.”

Liton had also committed the offences in a public park in broad daylight, at a place where a “substantial proportion” of Singaporeans engage in recreational activities, the DPP added.

“No woman should have to fear that she may be abducted and raped at knife point in the course [of] taking a walk in the park in broad daylight. Most certainly not in Singapore,” said DPP Tan.

For aggravated rape, Liton could have been jailed up to 20 years in jail and given at least 12 strokes of the cane per charge.