A man who was convicted of raping and molesting his mother was sentenced to 16 years’ jail and 18 strokes of the cane on Wednesday (14 March).
The 34-year-old former safety co-ordinator was expressionless as the sentence was read out to him in the High Court. He cannot be named to protect his mother’s identity.
The man was convicted on one count of rape, one count of aggravated molest and one count of molest on his then-54-year-old mother after a trial which spanned over two years.
In an impassioned speech to the court, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz said, “At the very heart of this case is the rape of a mother by her biological son – our minds struggle to comprehend it. We could label it as depraved, unfathomable and unthinkable.
“But for all the vastness of the English language, there is simply no word that comes even remotely close to capturing the horror that would have washed over the victim as she was cruelly and relentlessly sexually assaulted by the very son she gave life to 30 years earlier,” added DPP Sharmila, who called for a jail sentence of 18 years and 19 cane strokes for the man.
The man, who has two brothers and one half-brother, committed the act at around 2.30am on 4 October 2013 after returning home to find his mother alone in their one-room flat. According to the prosecution, the son, who was intoxicated, changed into a towel before sitting beside his mother on her bed and later making advances on her. He then raped her twice.
After the incident, the mother left for her daughter-in-law’s home and called her son while recording the conversation with another mobile phone.
During the six-minute exchange, the son is heard telling his mother “Boy say boy likes mother. This is between us.” and “I remember everything, I remember everything, mother, I didn’t forget. I remember. I like. I want again.”
The mother was also heard replying to her son, “Cannot, I have a husband”. She also told him, “I love you as my son, you love me in a different way.”
The prosecution and the defence disagreed with each other on what the man was referring to. While the prosecution argued he was referring to the sexual acts, the defence contested that he was merely being sarcastic to his mother as the two had an argument earlier.
In delivering the verdict, Judicial Commissioner Foo Chee Hock said the case had presented the court with “two disturbing questions”.
“First, whether a mother would falsely and cynically accuse her son of raping her. Second, whether a son would sexually assault his own biological mother.
“I find that the prosecution has proved each and every essential ingredient of the three charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt,” said the JC.
The man denied the charges during the trial, alleging, through his lawyer, Senior Counsel Harry Elias, that he had only lifted up his mother’s nightgown to look at her private parts in the wee hours of the morning.
He argued that his mother had cooked up the story to get him out of the house, which they shared with her second husband. The mother divorced the man’s biological father, who is her first husband, when her son was a child.
Elias pointed out that even though the incident occurred over 30 minutes, there was an absence of DNA and the mother had not suffered any injuries. The lawyer sought a sentence of 13 years, three months and nine strokes of the cane for the man.
However, the prosecution argued that the absence of injuries did not mean that rape had not taken place. DPP Sharmila added that the man’s defence was simply a “belated concoction” and a “deliberate attempt to explain away damning evidence”.
In addition, the prosecutor said the victim was “assaulted” again at the trial by the defence’s line of questioning.
“She learnt what it meant to be re-victimised when the defence made the outrageous submission that she could have ‘shut the gates’ by crossing her legs…This preposterous submission is premised on the antediluvian notion that a woman can resist a rapist if she really wants to. There is absolutely no room for such statements in the 21st century,” DPP Sharmila added.
During his closing submissions, Elias said the man and his two brothers were sent to a welfare home as children. The man stayed in the welfare home for about six years, during which his mother never once paid a visit.
For rape, the man could have been jailed up to 20 years and/or fined and/or caned. For aggravated molest, he could have been jailed between two and 10 years jail and caned. For molest, he could have been jailed up to two years and/or fined and/or caned.