Married man convicted of sexually assaulting minor who treated him as 'brother'

Wan Ting Koh
Reporter
Singapore State Courts (AFP Photo/Mohd Fyrol)

She was a troubled teenager who confided to a stranger she met through WeChat about her personal problems.

However, the stranger chose to prey on the 15-year-old girl, who has borderline intelligence. The married man, then 38, sexually assaulted the girl on two occasions after inviting her to his flat.

Ian Kevin Bligh, now 42, was convicted of two counts of a sexual assault by penetration of a minor under 16 years old on Tuesday (4 September) following a trial in the State Courts.

The offences came to light after the girl, now 19, was caught using her phone in class by a teacher. Concerned that the girl might be having sexual relations with a boy, the teacher checked the girl’s phone and reported the matter to the police.

The girl eventually made a police report about Kevin despite her reluctance. She cannot be named to protect her identity.

The court heard that the girl was not close to her family, comprising her biological father, step-mother and two step-siblings. She would quarrel with her father at times and preferred to stay out.

The girl met Bligh, a manufacturing manager, between 11 May 2014 and November 2014, after he sent her a “friend request”, and she accepted his request. She treated Kevin as a “brother” and shared her personal problems with him.

After a few days of exchanging messages, Bligh invited the victim to the flat on a weekday. The girl accepted the invitation as she liked visiting other people’s houses.

Clad in her T-shirt and PE shorts, the girl 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 at one point.

When she woke up, she found herself half undressed on the bed and being sexually assaulted by Kevin. The girl said she did not ask Bligh to stop as he was twice her size. She struggled to free herself but Kevin was holding onto her calves.

The girl bled from the incident and took a shower before getting dressed. Bligh later apologised for his action.

After a few days, the girl returned to Bligh’s flat at his invitation as she believed he would not repeat the act. During this occasion, Bligh gave the girl 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”, and she also did not think that Kevin would commit sexual acts against her in public.

The prosecution said in its documents 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 Deputy Public Prosecutor Raja Mohan.

The DPP also described Bligh’s defence was “ultimately dishonest” in a bid to prove his innocence.

“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,” said the DPP.

Bligh had also used victim-shaming tactics by alleging that the girl had sex with her ex-boyfriend and other male friends, according to the DPP.

The man is expected to be sentenced on 4 October. He faces a jail term of up to 10 years and/or a fine on each count of sexual assault.