SINGAPORE — Attracted by a then 12-year-old girl he saw on an MRT train, a 41-year-old construction worker decided to surreptitiously slip her his phone number, asking her to call.
The girl called, beginning a volley of sexual messages between the two. The messages culminated in Das Ratan Chandra bringing the girl to Lower Peirce Reservoir Park, where he had sex with her on multiple occasions.
Ratan, a Bangladeshi, was jailed 22 years and given 18 strokes of the cane after he admitted on Friday (12 April) to three counts of statutory rape by having sex with a minor under 14. Ratan, who has worked in Singapore since 2009, was between 38 and 39 years old at the time of the offences in 2017.
Another 22 charges, including sending photos of his penis to the girl and asking her to send sexually-explicit photos of herself, were taken into consideration for his sentencing.
Followed her after she alighted from MRT
The offences occurred from 19 February to 23 April 2017. The girl, now 14 years old, cannot be named to protect her identity.
On 5 February 2017, the girl was taking the MRT train with her grandparents to attend a birthday party in Choa Chu Kang when Ratan saw her. He glanced at her repeatedly and followed the girl when she and her grandparents alighted.
After following her to a short distance away from the MRT station, Ratan signalled for her to call him. He wrote down two numbers and passed them to her when her grandparents were not paying attention.
The girl called Ratan on the same day and the two began contacting through SMS, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Ratan lied that he was 25 years old and the girl told him her age.
On 19 February 2017, Ratan began sending photos of his penis to the girl, and asked her for photos of her private parts. The girl was initially reluctant but gave in from 23 February.
Eventually, the man began asking for sex and the girl agreed.
They met on at least five occasions. On 26 March and 2 April 2017, the two met at Ang Mo Kio MRT station before Ratan brought the girl to a forested area at Lower Peirce Reservoir Park. They then engaged in sexual acts on a blue canvas mat that Ratan brought.
On 23 April 2017, they met again at a bus stop opposite CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School before heading to the same venue for sex.
Mother chanced upon messages
The same day, after 11pm, the girl’s biological mother chanced upon her daughter behaving suspiciously in a video call with a man. She checked her daughter’s text messages and became worried.
The girl’s stepmother then confiscated the girl’s phone and went through the messages more thoroughly. She saw that the messages were sexually explicit.
A police report was lodged and Ratan was arrested on 26 April 2017. He has been in remand since 28 April of the same year.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Winston Man sought 22 years’ jail and 18 strokes of the cane for Ratan, while Ratan’s lawyer A Revi Shanker urged the court to jail his client 14 to 18 years.
Shanker said that the only aggravating factors were the girl’s young age and the fact that Ratan had sexually groomed her. He did not induce fear or use force in the offences, and knows what he did was wrong, added the pro-bono lawyer.
When asked if he had anything to say, Ratan told the court through an interpreter, “I apologise to the court and to the victim… I have two small kids, I have to take care of them.”
Justice Aedit Abdullah pointed out that the Ratan’s sexual grooming of the girl showed premeditation and was a significant aggravating factor.
Said the judge, “I do note that two months is not that prolonged, but this fact did not alter the effect of the grooming. Neither was the absence of the use of any force or violence sufficient to outweigh that.”
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