She was a troubled teenager with borderline intelligence who treated him as her elder brother and confided in him about her personal problems.
But the 38-year-old married man instead preyed on the 15-year-old and sexually assaulted her on two occasions at his flat.
Last Thursday (4 October), Ian Kevin Bligh, now 42, a Singaporean, was jailed for two-and-a-half years.
The manufacturing manager had claimed trial to two charges of sexual assault of a minor under 16, but was found guilty of both charges in a district court in September. The girl cannot be named to protect her identity.
Bligh’s crimes came to light after the girl, now 19, was caught using her phone in class by her teacher. The teacher checked the girl’s phone and, suspecting that she was having sexual relations with a boy, reported the matter to the police. The girl later told police about Bligh.
The court heard that the girl was not close to her family, comprising her biological father, step-mother and two step-siblings. She quarrelled with her father sometimes and preferred to stay out.
She met Bligh between May and November 2014, after he befriended her on social media application WeChat. She treated him as a brother and shared her personal problems with him.
After a few days of communicating with each other, Bligh invited the girl to his flat on a weekday. The girl accepted the invitation as she liked visiting other people’s houses, the court heard.
Clad in her T-shirt and PE shorts, she went to the flat at about 5pm. Bligh told the girl that his wife was at work until 7pm. The two watched television on the sofa and the girl fell asleep.
When she woke up, she found herself half undressed on the bed and being sexually assaulted by Bligh. She did not ask him to stop as he was twice her size. She struggled to free herself but he held on to her calves.
The girl bled from the incident and took a shower before getting dressed. Bligh later apologised for his action.
A few days later, the girl went back to Bligh’s flat at his invitation. This time, he gave her vodka, which made her tipsy. She fell asleep on the sofa and woke up to witness Bligh sexually assaulting her on the bed.
After the second incident, the girl met Bligh at her neighbourhood to cycle as she “didn’t want to think about the incident”. She also did not think that he would commit sexual acts on her in public.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Raja Mohan had told the court that Bligh had “wickedly exploited the victim’s youth and vulnerability by sexually violating her”.
“Through his chats with the victim, (Bligh) was acutely aware that the victim was a troubled teenager who was undergoing problems at home and in school. (He) then systematically gained the trust of the victim who treated (him) as a brother or friend,” said the prosecutor.
The DPP also described Bligh’s defence as “ultimately dishonest”. “He would have this court believe that the victim fabricated the two occasions of sexual assault. However, he was unable to provide any plausible reason as to why the victim would level false accusations against him.”
Bligh had also used victim-shaming tactics by alleging that the girl had sex with her ex-boyfriend and other male friends, said the DPP.
Bligh could have been jailed for up to 10 years and also fined for each of his two charges.
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