He was alone at home with his girlfriend’s daughter during the school holidays when he asked the eight-year-old to massage his legs. This caused him to get aroused and he then asked the girl to touch his genitals over his boxer shorts.
What followed the incident were at least two other occasions on which man sexually abused the girl in June 2014.
At the High Court on Monday (20 August), the 34-year-old man was handed a jail term of 12 and a half years along with 15 strokes of the cane. He had pleaded guilty to offences committed on a minor under the age of 14, including one count of sexual exploitation, one count of aggravated sexual assault by penetration and one count of molestation.
Three other counts of a similar nature and one count of causing hurt to the girl in 2016 were taken into account for his sentencing. None of the parties involved in the case can be named to protect the victim’s identity.
The court heard that the man, who worked as a despatch rider, had started dating the girl’s mother in 2009 despite being married and having a son with another woman.
In 2012, the man moved into a rental flat with his girlfriend and her daughter from another marriage. The couple went on to have two children of their own, a boy and a girl, although the boy died before turning one.
The victim addressed the man as “Uncle” and treated him as a father figure. He also acted as her disciplinarian and called her by a pet name.
During the June school holidays in 2014, the girl stayed at home with the man, who would frequently return home to rest before heading out again for work.
The first instance of sexual abuse occurred then while the man was on medical leave that month. He was in the living room when he asked the girl to massage his legs.
While doing so, the girl unintentionally came into contact with the man’s groin, which cause the man to get sexually aroused. He then asked the girl to touch his genitals over his boxer shorts and he ejaculated shortly after. After the act he went to change and continued watching television.
That same month, while resting at home, the man asked the girl to massage his legs again while lying on his bed. He became aroused again and exposed his genitals to her. He then sexually assaulted the girl.
After the act, he also kissed the girl and molested her.
A day after the abuse, the girl confided in a neighbour about the incidents and the neighbour then told the girl’s mother.
The mother confronted the man, who immediately confessed to the acts and begged for forgiveness. She rejected his apology and threw him out of the flat but the man returned and again asked for forgiveness.
The mother eventually relented and let him back into the flat. She did not report the matter to the police as her daughter did not complain of further incidents and the man continued staying in the flat for the next two years.
The authorities were alerted to the man’s actions on 28 February 2016, when the girl’s maternal grandmother brought the girl to make a police report after the man hurt the child while disciplining her. The victim had been left with a bruise on her head after being slapped on the cheek and punched by the man.
In seeking a sentence of 14 years and 15 strokes of the cane, Deputy Public Prosecutor Winston Man said that the man’s offences were persistent and committed on an exceptionally vulnerable victim.
“It is not that the man came to his senses, he desisted only after being confronted with the offences,” said the DPP. He also cited the victim’s age and her trust in the man as aggravating factors.
The man’s lawyer, Dhanwant Singh, pleaded for a sentence of nine years and 12 strokes of the cane. “He admitted his mistake and sincerely mended his ways and the father-daughter relationship remained intact,” said the lawyer.
Singh added that the family remained united and that it was only in 2016 that the offences were revealed. According to Singh, the man was forced to move out of the house when investigations commenced but is still in a relationship with the girl’s mother.
In a letter to the court pleading for leniency on the man’s behalf, the woman said that the man was sincere in wanting to change and become a good father, and that he was looking to learn skills to help him raise a family.
She added that her family – including the victim – was looking forward to being reunited with the man, who has been held in remand since December last year.
The girl’s mother, who was in court with the couple’s infant daughter, was allowed some time with the man following the hearing.
For sexual exploitation of a child, the man could have been jailed up to five years and fined a maximum $10,000. For sexual assault by penetration of a minor under the age of 14, he could have been jailed between eight and 20 years, and received at least 12 strokes of the cane.
For molesting a child under the age of 14, he could have been sentenced to up to five years’ jail along with a possible fine or caning.
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