'Serial sexual predator' sentenced to 9 years' preventive detention

Amir Hussain
Senior Reporter
Teo Koon Tian had lured his victim – a man assessed to have mild mental retardation – into his home before sexually assaulting him. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

A 62-year-old cleaner described by the prosecution as a “serial sexual predator” and a “menace to vulnerable victims in his neighbourhood” was on Wednesday (21 November) sentenced to nine years’ preventive detention.

Teo Koon Tian had lured his victim – a man assessed to have mild mental retardation – into his home before sexually assaulting him. He had pleaded guilty earlier this month to one charge of sexual assault and two counts of molestation.

The offence took place less than two years after his release from prison, where he had served a 20-month sentence for groping a 10-year-old boy.

Teo also has a string of convictions for sexual crimes dating back to 1990, when he was found guilty under Section 377A of the Penal Code.

Victim lured with false promises

The court heard that Teo had been drinking beer at about 5pm on 17 September last year at an eatery near his Yishun home. The victim, then 21, was having his dinner there at the time and shared a table with Teo.

Teo knew the victim had some mental disability as he had seen him in the neighbourhood before. They chatted briefly and Teo gave the victim money for a drink.

Teo asked the victim to follow him home, saying he would give him more money. The victim relented when Teo said he could watch television there.

Police cameras in the area showed Teo leading the victim to his home while holding on to and pulling the victim’s wrist.

At his home, Teo groped the victim on the sofa. The victim tried to fend off Teo by saying that his mother would scold him.

Shortly after, Teo performed a sexual act on the man in the shower. The victim again told Teo to stop as his mother would scold him, but Teo continued with the assault.

Teo only stopped his abuse when the victim pushed him away. He then groped the victim again. The victim told Teo a third time that his mother would scold him before Teo performed a sexual act in front of him.

Later, Teo told the victim to come by his place again the following day so that Teo could give him some shirts. The victim declined.

While at home two days later, the victim called the police, saying he had been molested at Teo’s home. The victim was afraid that Teo would abuse him again.

String of past offences

In seeking 10 years’ preventive detention for Teo, the prosecution described him as a “serial sexual predator” who had taken advantage of the vulnerable and simple-minded victim, and lured him home.

The prosecution also noted Teo’s past sexual crimes, including his six-month jail term for his 377A offence in 1990.

In 2004, Teo was also jailed 15 months and handed nine strokes of the cane for molesting a 13-year-old boy in his Yishun neighbourhood. Teo had tailed the victim for a while before leading him to a void deck and groping him for about half a minute.

Following that, in 2014, Teo was sentenced to 20 months’ jail for molesting a 10-year-old victim in his neighbourhood.

Teo had been drinking beer at the void deck when he saw the victim playing with his mobile phone. Finding the victim cute, Teo touched his cheeks twice, before patting and rubbing his thighs.

Continuing danger to the public

“(The) accused uses the same modus operandi to target and take advantage of vulnerable victims (by virtue of immaturity of age or mental disability) staying or commuting in his neighbourhood whom he had the opportunity to encounter,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Gail Wong.

“He thus poses a continuing danger to the public at large, and of even greater concern, is a menace to vulnerable victims in his neighbourhood.”

The prosecutor also pointed out that there had been an escalation in the gravity of Teo’s sexual offending.

“The accused was punished for his previous offences, and even caned. Yet, repeatedly, he has continued to offend and remains undeterred by his previous punishments from the age of 34,” she added.

“The accused is now 62 years old and has reoffended four times, committing sexual offences over the span of 30 years. He is a recalcitrant sexual offender with no real prospects of reformation, and imprisonment has proven to be insufficient and unable to deter or rehabilitate the accused.”

The maximum penalty for sexual assault by penetration is up to 20 year’s jail, along with a fine and caning. The maximum punishment for using criminal force to outrage the modesty of a person is up to two years’ jail, along with a fine and caning.

The courts can sentence recalcitrant offenders to preventive detention for a period of between seven and 20 years to protect the public. Such sentences must be served in full with no reduction for good behaviour.

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