Man who molested 8-year-old neighbour twice sentenced to 4 years’ jail, caning

Wan Ting Koh
PHOTO: Supreme Court (Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — A man who entered a neighbouring family’s house to molest an eight-year-old girl twice was sentenced to four years’ jail and nine strokes of the cane on Thursday (12 September).

The 47-year-old man, who works as a driver, had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of molest on Tuesday. He had two counts of exhibiting an obscene object to a person below the age of 21 taken into consideration for his sentencing.

The prosecution asked for a sentence of five years, and nine strokes of the cane, saying that the man’s “act of lust would leave an indelible mark on the life of a young innocent child”. Both the girl, now 10, and the man cannot be named to protect her identity.

The prosecution also argued that the man had shown premeditation by reentering the girl’s house under the pretext of fixing a water heater. He had also lied to his wife about having to work before going to the victim’s house.

The man’s act of showing the girl obscene material prior to molesting her twice was also an act of “sexual grooming”.

Peter Keith Fernando, the man’s lawyer, objected to calling the man’s actions as sexual grooming, adding that the girl had viewed pornography before.

A forensic examination of the girl’s father’s laptop showed that the victim had previously accessed sexual content, said Fernando. The man’s actions were “more opportunistic than premeditated", he added.

Submitting for a jail sentence of two years, Fernando said that his client was diagnosed with erectile dysfunction from a pelvic injury that was caused by a severe motorcycle accident in 1998. The accident had affected his client mentally and he felt he could not keep his wife happy.

“My client and wife instructed me to say that he is very very sorry to both the victim and her parents for what he had done to her,” said Fernando.

Background to molest incidents

The man stayed with his wife and her parents in a landed home adjacent to the victim’s family. The neighbours were close - whenever the victim’s family members were overseas, they would entrust the key to the man’s parents-in-law, known as Mr and Mrs Sim.

At Mrs Sim’s invitation, the victim would sometimes visit the former’s home. At times, the man would be left alone with the victim in his bedroom.

The victim’s father would also get the man to help with repairs in his home. On one such occasion on 4 September 2017, the man went over to fix a water heater.

After the repair was done, the man left the house but later returned under the pretext of checking the heater again. The girl and her aunt were home then.

The man entered the master bedroom of his neighbour’s home, which the girl was in, and showed her an obscene photograph and video on his mobile phone before molesting her.

The girl pushed the man out of the door and tried to shut it, but stopped when the man pleaded with her. After the man reentered the room, he pulled down the girl’s underwear. She later told her aunt that the man did not fix the water heater.

Sometime during the last week of November that year, the man told the girl that he wanted to come over. The girl said he could do so on 1 December.

Despite not having to work on 1 December, the man lied to his wife that he needed to go to work. His wife accompanied him to Marina Bay Sands (MBS), where the man worked at, to run some errands.

After reaching MBS, the man parted ways with his wife. He went to the girl’s house with the key that was given to his parents-in-law.

When the girl, who was alone at home, asked how the man had entered, he said the main door wasn’t locked. The two later watched pornography in the bedroom of the girl’s parents, and the man undressed the girl. The man undressed and they went to the girl’s bedroom where he molested the girl.

While committing the offence, the man showed the girl a pornographic cartoon. The man later left to pick up his wife at MBS.

The next day, the girl asked her mother to retrieve the house key that was handed to Mr and Mrs Sim. She repeated the request the next day and told her mother about the molest.

On 6 December, the mother went to the man’s house alone and confronted him. He denied any wrongdoing while his wife pleaded to give the man another chance. The man later admitted to the offences. The girl’s mother made a police report the next day.

Justice Pang Kang Chau noted that the offences were not opportunistic as the defence has described, given how he had returned to the house after the girl’s father had left, and that he had lied to his wife about his whereabouts.

The man had also abused the trust of the girl’s family, the judge added.

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