A man who impregnated his underage girlfriend twice has been sentenced to jail in the State Courts.
After having sex with her 25-year-old boyfriend some two-and-a-half years ago, the then-14-year-old became pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl in the toilet of her house. She had not known she was pregnant until the birth of the baby.
Months later, a month shy of her 16th birthday, the girl became pregnant again by the same man, who had been given a conditional warning for having had sex with her. The girl miscarried her second pregnancy. She is now 17.
The boyfriend, now 28, was sentenced to 18 months’ jail in the State Courts on Thursday (14 December) after he pleaded guilty to two counts of having sex with a minor under 16. Two similar counts, committed on separate other occasions, were taken into account for sentencing.
The couple, who had initially intended to get married – even going so far as to obtain a Special Marriage License – have since separated. Neither can be named due to a gag order.
The daughter born of the first pregnancy is now 21 months old and is under the care of the man’s parents, as the mother has since moved out. The girl was in secondary 2 when she first met the man after being introduced by mutual friends in December 2014. At the time, she was living with her father and her grandmother.
She and the man became involved in a romantic relationship a month later, even though the man was 11 years her senior. Sometime in mid-2015, the two were watching TV in the living room of the flat where he was living with his parents when he initiated sex. They had unprotected sex in the man’s bedroom and the girl became pregnant.
She gave birth on 18 February last year in toilet of her home, and her grandmother cut the umbilical cord with a scissors before calling for an ambulance. Neither the girl nor the man knew that the girl was pregnant till the birth of their daughter.
After the birth, the girl suffered from mild postnatal depression and barely knew how to raise the child, said the prosecution. By the time she gave birth, the girl had quit school and obtained a job in an attempt to support her new family. She moved in with the man and his parents so that they could care for the baby.
Following the birth of the baby, the man was given a 12-month conditional warning on 16 May 2016 for having sex with a minor.
However, the conditional warning was revoked as the two engaged in unprotected sex again barely a month after the warning was administered. The girl became pregnant a second time. She discovered her pregnancy when she visited the hospital on 24 June 2016 for a medical check-up following the birth of her daughter.
After informing the doctor that she had not gotten her period for two months, an ultrasound was performed and the pregnancy discovered. In accordance with its obligations, the hospital informed the police of the underage pregnancy.
The girl miscarried the following month. By this time, the couple had been quarrelling frequently and the two broke up. The girl moved back to her home some time in July 2016.
According to the man’s lawyer, Criminal Legal Aid Scheme-assigned Sherrie Han, the man did not know of the miscarriage until earlier this year. The lawyer added that the man, who works in sales, took over responsibility of his baby after the girl moved out, as the girl never returned to see or care for her daughter.
In mitigation, Han said that the offences took place while the two were in a romantic relationship. The couple had even intended to marry and had completed a marriage preparation programme conducted by TOUCH Family Services. The pair obtained a Special Marriage License on 30 June last year.
Han argued that the man had a “high rehabilitative potential” as he had shown “great maturity in assuming care of (his daughter) both financially and physically”.
“He feels the weight of responsibility in being a father and recognises the importance of being a good role model for his daughter,” the lawyer said. She added that the daughter needed him, as he was her sole breadwinner and primary caregiver.
However, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Jesintha Veijayaratnam said that the Special Marriage License was irrelevant as it was obtained in response to the girl’s first pregnancy. She added that no date was set for the couple to solemnise their marriage.
Said DPP Veijayaratnam, “There was a reckless disregard for the (girl’s) health and safety given that the (man) blatantly ignored the fact that he was under a legal obligation not to engage in sexual activities with her and proceeded to have sex with her a mere five months after the victim gave birth to their daughter. She conceived again and miscarried.”
The DPP sought a sentence of at least 15 months on one charge, and at least 18 months on the other.
Noting that the man did not pressure the girl into sex, District Judge Jasvender Kaur nevertheless said that the man had shown “total disregard for the girl’s welfare” as he had unprotected sex (with her), resulting in her conceiving again. The girl had been”thrust into motherhood at aged 15″, said the judge.
For unlawful sex with a minor, the man could have been jailed up to 10 years and/or fined.