A Land Transport Authority security auditor who befriended teenage boys on Facebook and then paid them for sexual services was jailed 15 years on Wednesday (3 January) after he was assessed to have a high risk of reoffending.
Soffiyan Hamzah, 38, had pleaded guilty to eight counts of sexual penetration involving a minor below the age of 16 in December last year. He had seven other counts for similar offences and 68 counts of having commercial sex with a minor under the age of 18 taken into consideration for sentencing.
Another four counts of sexual grooming and three charges under the Films Act, including possessing 453 obscene films, were also taken into consideration for his sentencing.
In total, Soffiyan obtained sexual services from 15 victims aged 14 to 17 between mid-2015 to March 2017. He paid the victims $30 to $100 on each occasion to perform oral sex on them – acts he referred to as “work” – usually at a public toilet at JCube shopping mall.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Gail Wong called for a jail term of 15 years for Soffiyan, citing a number of aggravating factors.
Soffiyan’s offences were clearly premeditated as he had planned where and how to carry out the offences, said the DPP.
An Institute of Mental Health report also placed Soffiyan at a high risk of reoffending, even though he was not diagnosed with paedophilia – a psychiatric disorder in which an adult experiences a sexual attraction to prepubescent children.
The DPP pointed out that Soffiyan had admitted in his psychiatric reports that he derives greater sexual pleasure in performing oral sex with boys than with adult males.
“It is clear from the pattern of his offending against minors that he has a propensity to commit paedophilic offences and minors are at danger of being targeted by him,” said DPP Wong.
The prosecution added that a “high degree of moral corruption” had been inflicted on the victims, to whom Soffiyan portrayed himself as a caring older brother.
“He normalised each of these offences as ‘work’ even though it actually entailed selling their bodies, and exploited the young victims’ desire for fast cash to satisfy his own personal sexual appetite,” said DPP Wong.
“In actual fact, what he did was to turn the victims into his exclusive stable of prostitutes whom he paid to perform oral sex on, and many of whom were used more than once.”
To approach the boys online, Soffiyan created a Facebook account – under the moniker “ItsmeDeedeeYourfrenlyfren” – that was separate from his personal one. This was an attempt to evade detection, said the DPP.
Soffiyan also used a separate mobile phone to contact the victims, so as to keep his personal number hidden from them.
In his Facebook profile, he said that he was gay, was willing to perform oral sex on anyone and would pay to do so. Soffiyan also became acquainted with some boys through his victims.
After the boys agreed to meet him for oral sex, he would usually arrange to meet them near MRT stations.
The court heard that most of the sexual encounters took place in a public toilet at JCube shopping centre in Jurong. He would meet his victims – none of whom knew Soffiyan’s real identity – after cleaning hours or late at night when there was less human traffic.
On several occasions, Soffiyan would meet more than one boy in separate cubicles during a single session. He also once performed sexual acts on two boys in the same cubicle.
In January last year one of Soffiyan’s victims, a 16-year-old, introduced his then 15-year-old brother to Soffiyan. The younger boy later met Soffiyan, who performed a sex act on the boy.
The younger brother was ashamed by the act and later reported what had happened to his teacher, who alerted the police on 10 March last year. Soffiyan was arrested three days later.
In passing Soffiyan’s sentence, District Judge Jasvender Kaur agreed with the prosecution that a “significant degree of planning” had been involved and noted that Soffiyan had a high risk of reoffending.
For sexual penetration involving a minor under the age of 16, Soffiyan could have been jailed up to 10 years and/or fined on each count.