Jail for gardener, 74, who molested boy at condominium

A shadow of a boy.
A shadow of a boy. (PHOTO: Getty Images.)

SINGAPORE — An elderly gardener who worked at a condominium offered a boy living there $2 to buy ice cream and asked him to meet at a barbecue pit later.

Despite the boy rejecting his offer, Tok Chon Chey, 74, was not deterred. The man carried the boy to one side after seeing him in the condominium premises again two days later. He then asked the boy to perform a sexual act on him.

Tok was sentenced to one year and nine months' jail on Tuesday (4 May) after he pleaded guilty to charges of molesting a person under 14 and procuring an indecent act from the boy. Another charge of aggravated molest was taken into account for his sentencing.

The boy, now nine, cannot be named to protect his identity.

The court heard that the boy knew Tok for at least two years, as he would see the man tending to the plants when he returned from kindergarten.

On 21 March 2019, the boy chanced upon Tok sitting on a chair. Tok offered the boy $2 to buy ice cream and asked him to meet at the BBQ pit later. The victim did not take the money and did not meet Tok.

Two days later, the boy and his sister left home to play at the condominium's playground in the morning. They then returned home to drink water before leaving to ride around on their bicycles.

Tok was in the area and asked the boy to come to him. The boy's sister went home as she did not suspect anything was amiss.

Tok then carried the boy onto his lap and kissed him on the lips.

A witness, a female resident, was walking near the side gate when she saw the encounter. She recognised both the boy and Tok. The witness left the condominium but returned as she felt uneasy over what she saw.

Meanwhile, Tok asked the boy to stand and touched the boy's crotch. Tok then unzipped his own pants and asked the boy to perform a sexual act on him. When the witness arrived, she saw the boy facing the man and touching the man's penis.

She asked Tok whether he thought what he was doing was right. Tok dressed and started pleading with the woman not to report the matter. The witness replied that he had to be reported. She made her way to the security guard post with the boy, with the man pleading with her before walking off.

The witness told security personnel what had transpired and the victim's parents were contacted. The boy's father lodged a police report. Police officers later arrested Tok.

Past conviction also with young boy: Prosecution

Tok had been jailed six months after being convicted in 2013 for sexual offences against an 11-year-old boy. He molested the boy above his underwear and kissed the boy on his lips. While the two were in a lift of an HDB block a while later, Tok kissed the boy again.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Nicholas Lai noted that in his latest offence, Tok had went a step further to ask the boy to perform a sexual act on him.

"In the present case, the accused offered victim $2 to buy ice cream although the victim had no intention to meet him. What we can see from facts is that there is an attempt to (and) premeditation, exemplified by the act of offering two dollars, whether or not led to fruition, that is to be considered by the court," said DPP Lai.

Tok's lawyer, Benjamin Li, pointed out that there was no abuse of trust and that the contact Tok had with the boy was fleeting.

"Given (he is at the) advanced age of 74, a prolonged custodial sentence will be crushing, he may potentially die in Changi, so the defence submits for 12 months' jail given his advanced age," Li added.

For procuring an indecent act from a child, Tok could have been jailed up to five years and/or fined up to $10,000 on a first conviction. For molesting a person under 14, he could have been jailed up to five years, and/or fined. He cannot be caned as he is above 50 years old.

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