Bangladeshi Pramanik Liton was yesterday convicted and sentenced to 17 years in jail and 24 strokes of the cane for abducting and raping a woman at knifepoint in broad daylight at MacRitchie Reservoir.
Justice Choo Han Teck found the 24-year-old construction worker guilty of two counts of aggravated rape, one count of sexual assault by penetration and one count of abduction for illicit intercourse.
His was the first case to fall under a new framework for sentencing rapists, which was spelt out by the apex court last week .
The framework sets out three sentencing bands, corresponding to the severity of the rape and various aggravating factors. Deputy Public Prosecutor Stella Tan noted that Liton's offences would come under Band 2, where there are two or more aggravating factors. This band carries a sentencing range of 13 to 17 years in jail and 12 strokes of the cane.
"Taking into consideration Terence Ng and the prosecution's sentencing submissions, I am of the view that the global sentence should reflect the seriousness of the offences," Justice Choo said, referring to the case of cobbler Terence Ng Kean Meng, 46, who appealed against his sentence for statutory rape. The chance to review the framework arose from that case.
The previous framework divided rapes into four categories: Those with no aggravating or mitigating factors, those with specific aggravating factors, multiple rapes, and those committed by offenders who will remain a threat to society. But the four categories did not cover the full spectrum of circumstances in which rape may be committed, the apex court had said.
About the case
On the afternoon of Feb 8 two years ago, Bangladeshi Pramanik Liton abducted a 39-year-old Chinese national along a trail at the park at knife-point.
He raped her and forced her to perform oral sex on him.
He was arrested at his worksite two days later, after Gurkha trackers located the crime scene and found a jackknife with his thumbprint in the forest.
His semen was also found on the woman's panties, swabs taken from her body and tissue paper recovered from the crime scene, which was 14m off the trail.
The rape victim's Singaporean husband had told the High Court during the trial that she was "unlike her usual cheerful self" when she told him over the phone on Feb 8 that she needed help. They were not married at the time.
When he met her at the Mushroom Cafe at MacRit- chie Reservoir, she was in a state of shock and her voice was shaky as she told him she was "nearly killed in the forested area" and had been "violated".
Two workers at the park also took the stand to describe her as being distraught when they came across her that day.
Clearly, she had not (died) or this would have been the world's first supernatural trial. I see nothing supernatural, only a traumatised woman who has convinced me that you committed the offences upon which you are being tried.
JUSTICE CHOO HAN TECK, addressing Liton, who had told the court that he did not have sex with the victim as she had died from fear. She is in fact alive and testified that he attacked her.
DPP Tan, in asking for a total sentence of at least 20 years in jail and 24 strokes of the cane, listed six aggravating factors specific to the offences. They included how Liton had further violated the victim, a 39-year-old Chinese national, to get rid of any semen as he was afraid she would get pregnant. This caused her significant pain and left her deeply scarred, she said.
Delivering his verdict after a three-day trial, Justice Choo said the victim's evidence was "clear, cogent and consistent", while Liton's was "bizarre and incomprehensible".
In an unusual turn on Thursday, Liton told the court he did not have sex with the victim because she had died from fear. This, despite the fact that she is alive and testified that Liton attacked her. He was in court when she took the stand.
Addressing Liton, Justice Choo said: "Clearly, she had not (died) or this would have been the world's first supernatural trial. I see nothing supernatural, only a traumatised woman who has convinced me that you committed the offences upon which you are being tried."
Liton's sentence will be backdated to his arrest. For each charge of aggravated rape, he could have been sentenced to between eight and 20 years in jail and at least 12 strokes of the cane.
On the new framework, criminal lawyer Sunil Sudheesan said it allows the court more flexibility to consider the specific facts of a case in sentencing. "My sense is that punishments may now go up, as cases of rape in the lowest category can now get up to 13 years," he said.
In the old framework, the benchmark for the lowest end of the sentencing spectrum for rape was set at 10 years.