A man who was charged with raping a teenage girl was acquitted on Wednesday (12 April) of all five charges of sexual offences against him.
Mohd Ariffan Mohd Hassan was found not guilty after a two-week trial held in July last year. He was accused of raping, sexual assault by penetrating and molesting his lover’s daughter between 2009 and 2011.
The 56-year-old looked relieved when Senior Judge (SJ) Kan Ting Chiu acquitted him in the High Court, while some eight family members and friends sitting in the public gallery cried out in relief.
Ariffan was accused of first molesting the girl in March 2009, when she was 15 years old. He was said to have restrained and molested her in a truck parked in a forested area in Punggol. He also allegedly raped her in the same truck in the forested area of Punggol in 2010 and 2011.
On two separate occasions in June 2010, Ariffan was also said to have sexually abused the girl in a flat, which they shared with the girl’s mother and two siblings.
In his judgement, SJ Kan flagged several factors for the court’s decision, including the long period between the offences and the complaints. He pointed out that the girl had “every opportunity to complain” but had not been “prompt in her complaints”.
Citing one of the sexual penetration charges, he said that the girl did not promptly inform her mother when the offence allegedly took place. It was only six months later that she told her mother that Ariffan had “touched her body”.
“There were no reasons for her not to confide in members of her family or her boyfriend. She had ample time to recover from any distress or embarrassment that she may had experienced,” SJ Kan said.
Her testimony was also “contradictory and inconsistent”, the judge added. The girl told her mother that she was molested, but told her brother, sister and boyfriend that she was raped, said the judge.
The girl’s evidence regarding the truck was also contradicted by Sim Hock Beng, a prosecution witness who had employed Ariffan as a crane operator.
Ariffan was not allowed to drive the company’s trucks, Sim had told the court, adding that Ariffan would have been dismissed if there was the “slightest suspicion” that he had done so.
SJ Kan also noted that the girl’s evidence “was not unusually compelling or convincing” and that the inconsistencies in her testimony had a “negative impact on her credibility”.
Ariffan was also originally charged with molesting the girl’s sister but the charge was stood down pending the trial.
Each charge of rape carries a jail term of up to 20 years with either a fine or caning. For sexual assault by penetration, the maximum sentence is 20 years’ jail with either a fine or caning while aggravated molest carries a jail term of between two years and 10 years with caning.