The Court of Appeal on Monday (25 September) reduced the caning sentence for a former Sentosa beach patrol officer who raped a drunk partygoer, while maintaining the man’s jail term.
Pram Nair, 28, was given 10 strokes of the cane instead of the 12 he was sentenced to in October 2016. His jail term of 11 years and 19 days was kept intact.
Nair had been found guilty of raping and sexually assaulting a 20-year-old woman at Siloso Beach on Sentosa island after meeting her during a party at the Wave House club and restaurant on the night of 5 May 2012.
His appeal against his conviction and sentence was heard in April by a five-judge panel comprising Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon along with Judges of Appeal Chao Hick Tin, Andrew Phang, Judith Prakash and Tay Yong Kwang.
The defence argued that the woman was not as drunk as she claimed to be, while Nair said the woman had flirted with and had agreed to have sex with him. However, the Apex Court on Monday found that the woman was too intoxicated to consent to the sexual acts.
The Apex Court also disagreed with the trial judge that the offence of sexual assault by digital penetration in Nair’s case was as severe as rape. It said that penile penetration carries the added risks of unwanted pregnancy and sexual diseases, and was more intimate.
The panel of judges set out a three-band framework for digital penetration to reflect the gravity of the offences. Band 1 carries a sentence of seven to 10 years’ jail and four strokes of the cane, while Band 2 carries 10 to 15 years’ jail and eight strokes, and Band 3 carries 15 to 20 years’ jail and 12 strokes.
For rape, the sentencing range is 10 to 13 years’ jail and six strokes of the cane for Band 1; 13 to 17 years’ jail and 12 strokes for Band 2; and 17 to 20 years’ jail and 18 strokes for Band 3.
On the night of the crime, the victim, a relief teacher, had attended a Wave House party with a female friend. While at the bar, the pair were approached by Nair who befriended them. At one point of the night, while the three were drinking together, Nair poured alcohol directly into the victim’s mouth for 20 seconds.
Sometime later, the woman’s friend left to collect the victim’s bag from another area of the club. When she returned, however, Nair and the other woman were gone.
During the trial, the victim testified that she had experienced memory blackouts and could not recall how she ended up on the beach. She said that she came to her senses due to the pain of Nair raping her but was too weak to push him away.
Passersby saw the victim lying naked in front of Nair and someone called the police after seeing her attempting to push Nair away. When the victim’s friend turned up at the scene, Nair claimed to have found the drunk woman naked on the beach. Nair walked away from the scene but was later arrested.