Badminton coach sentenced to five years in jail for grooming boy for sex

A freelance badminton coach, who sexually abused a male student for over a year, was sentenced to five years' jail on Wednesday (Jan 13).
A freelance badminton coach, who sexually abused a male student for over a year, was sentenced to five years' jail on Wednesday (Jan 13).PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A freelance badminton coach, who sexually abused a male student for over a year, was sentenced to five years' jail on Wednesday (Jan 13).

The 32-year-old, who cannot be named due to a gag order, admitted to 10 of 23 charges including committing an indecent act with the then 13-year-old and getting him to perform oral sex.

The court heard that he first came to know the student in 2012 when he was the school's assistant badminton coach.

He left his position at the end of 2013 to become a freelance coach. The boy quit the school's badminton team in mid-2014 and attended private badminton lessons with the coach.

Between 2012 and 2014, the coach developed a close relationship with the student, who saw him not just as a coach, but also a role model and a mentor, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Randeep Singh Koonar.

Between 2013 and Oct 24, 2014 - the day he was arrested in his car at an open carpark with the naked boy - he groomed and pressured the boy to take part in sexual activities with him.

When the boy decided to stop and avoided him in September 2014, they had an argument over WhatsApp.

The coach claimed that the boy had taken him for granted and threatened to sever their relationship. He also asked the boy to return the items he had given to him.

On Sept 19 that year, the coach gave the boy one last chance and asked the teen to meet him at Hougang Sports Hall. Afraid that he would lose the accused as his coach and mentor, the boy agreed to meet.

At the sports hub, the coach asked the boy to go into the male toilet where the boy fellated the coach.

That evening, the coach asked the boy to take and send him a naked photograph of himself over WhatsApp. The boy complied.

In sentencing the coach, District Judge Salina Ishak took into account several factors such as the vulnerability of the minor, the coach's position of trust, and that the offences were the result of his grooming and pressurising the boy for a long time.

"The accused corrupted the minor when he abused his position of trust when he encouraged the victim to engage in sexual activities for the first time," she said.

She also considered the manner in which the coach obtained the boy's consent as an aggravating factor, especially when the minor's consent was obtained through lies, incentives, threats or emotional pressure.

Judge Salina allowed the coach to start his sentence on Feb 15 and increased his bail by another $10,000 to $25,000.