Man who abused roommate's child gets 4 years' jail, caning

Wan Ting Koh
Reporter
(PHOTO: Getty Images)

He was entrusted with the care of his ex-colleague’s then nine-year-old daughter. However, instead of watching over her, Li Ya Fei repeatedly molested the child in her family home.

On Wednesday (19 September), the 30-year-old Chinese national was sentenced to four years’ jail and nine strokes of the cane after he pleaded guilty to three counts of molesting a minor under the age of 14. One count of showing the girl a pornographic video was taken into consideration for his sentencing.

Accused shared room with victim and her father

Li, a factory worker, moved into the victim’s home in October 2016, sharing the flat’s master bedroom with the girl and her father, who had worked with Li in the past.

The victim, who has been assessed to be of low intelligence, has been living with her father since her parents’ divorce in 2013.

As the girl’s father had an irregular work schedule, he would ask Li to pick her up from the student care centre. Li, who has a daughter the same age as the victim, would also cook for the girl on occasion.

Sometime in July last year, the girl was playing with her iPad on her bed when Li touched her knees. Her father was at work at the time.

When the girl did not respond to Li’s touch, he began rubbing his private parts over her clothes. This left the girl feeling uncomfortable and she turned away from him.

Li then stopped his actions before making some food for the girl. Although the girl felt uncomfortable at that time, she remained silent about the incident as she did not understand Li’s actions.

Later that month, Li again molested the girl under her shorts while her father was at work. He touched her for about a minute before cooking a meal for her.

In August last year, Li was watching a pornographic video on his mobile phone while the girl sat beside him. Li then showed the girl what he was watching and molested her over her clothes for several seconds before slipping his hand into her shorts.

The girl told Li to stop but he did not comply. While distressed over the sexual assaults, the girl did not dare to confide in her father as she was afraid that he would not believe her.

She eventually informed her school teacher and school counsellor about the incidents on 23 August last year. The teacher and counsellor then took the girl to lodge a police report.

Wouldn’t do the same to my own child: accused

Li was arrested and underwent an assessment by Institute of Mental Health, during which he claimed to have only touched the victim to “tease her” and “play around”. He admitted, however, that he would not do the same to his own daughter or other children.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Chee Ee Ling sought four years’ jail and nine strokes of the cane for Li, claiming that he had “embarked on a campaign of increasing sexual acts” on the girl.

The girl was also a vulnerable victim, given her age and her intellectual range.

Li’s lawyer Melvin Loh, who was appointed under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, said that his client did not disagree with the proposed sentence. He added that Li simply wanted to serve time and return to his family in China.

For molesting a minor under the age of 14, Li could have been sentenced to up to five years’ jail along with possible caning or a fine.

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