Man who sexually groomed a 14-year-old girl jailed six months

Wan Ting Koh
Reporter
Singapore’s State Courts. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore)

He met a 14-year-old Filipina by chance at a void deck and became interested in her. He later texted sexually suggestive comments to the teenager without realising that her father was holding on to her mobile phone.

Ishak Zainal, 41, was arrested by the police when he showed up at the girl’s home thinking that the girl had asked to meet him at her flat. But it was the girl’s father who arranged the meeting with the delivery driver and informed the police about it.

Ishak Zainal, who is married with children, was sentenced to six months’ jail on one count of sexually grooming a minor who is under 16 years old on Wednesday (13 December). The girl, who cannot be named to protect her identity, has since returned to the Philippines.

The girl arrived here on 16 May last year to visit her father, who works in Singapore, for a month. She stayed with him in their flat.

On 29 May, at around 7.45pm, the girl went to dispose of trash outside the flat. As she was walking along the void deck, Ishak approached and greeted her. It was the first time the two had met.

They chatted for a while during which Ishak asked the girl for her name and Facebook account. He passed her his mobile phone so that he could add her as a Facebook friend and the girl keyed in her Facebook username.

They spoke for a while more, during which Ishak told her about his family. She later returned to her flat.

At around 8.12pm, Ishak began a Facebook conversation with the girl in which he asked her to meet him again. He also asked her to get into his lorry. During their conversation, the girl told Ishak “I love you” and Ishak replied “me (too)”.

The girl agreed to meet Ishak and they arranged to meet at the void deck near a playground shortly afterwards.

The two met as agreed around 8.30pm and chatted at a nearby staircase. After some time, the girl left for her flat and met her grandmother who had gone down to the void deck to look for her. The girl’s grandmother, who had discovered the Facebook exchange between the two, confronted the girl about them. The girl cried and apologised to her grandmother.

Shortly after the girl returned to the flat, her father came home. He observed his daughter to be behaving nervously and asked her what happened. The girl confessed to him about Ishak, prompting the father to read the messages and confiscate the phone. He continued to message Ishak in the guise of his daughter.

During this conversation, Ishak made sexually suggestive comments towards the “girl”, including telling her that his genitals were “in pain”. He also asked her for nude photographs.

Even after the father texted, “My daddy will get mad” and “I’m still young”, Ishak continued his advances and asked the “girl” to “make a date”.

The father later initiated a meeting that night but Ishak asked the “girl” to go to sleep, saying that he was occupied with personal matters. However, he later asked the girl to meet him at West Coast Park and eventually agreed to meet “her” at her flat. He then sent sexually explicit messages, expressing his intention to penetrate the girl with his finger.

Ishak took a taxi and reached the girl’s flat at about 1.34am on 30 May.

But when Ishak took the lift to the ninth floor, he was arrested by two police officers waiting for him just outside the lift.

A forensic examination conducted on Ishak’s phone found that Ishak had deleted the Facebook exchange between him and the girl that took place before 12.58am.

While the prosecution sought six to eight months’ jail for Ishak, his lawyer, Wong Su-Jin from the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, asked for a jail sentence of between four and six months.

Wong said that Ishak had not been convicted of sexual offences before and had pleaded guilty before his trial, which was slated for January next year.

She added that Ishak’s culpability was low as the girl’s father had taken over the messaging at some point during the escalation of sexually explicit messages. Ishak had also been reluctant to meet the girl and may have only relented after the father became more deliberately provocative.

For sexual grooming of a minor under 16, Ishak could have been jailed up to ten years and/or fined.