Construction worker on trial for raping woman at MacRitchie Reservoir in broad daylight

 A view of MacRitchie Reservoir.
A view of MacRitchie Reservoir. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A 24-year-old construction worker went on trial on Tuesday (May 16) for abducting and raping a woman, now 41, who was walking along the Lornie Trail at MacRitchie Reservoir in broad daylight two years ago.

At about 1.45pm on Feb 8, 2015, Pramanik Liton, a Bangladeshi national, allegedly accosted the woman, who was then 39 years old, and asked her to have sex with him, the High Court heard.

When she refused, he held a knife against her neck, covered her nose and mouth and took her to a forested area off the trail.

After raping the woman twice and forcing her to perform oral sex on him, Liton threw the knife into another part of the forested area and left her there, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Stella Tan.

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The woman, a Chinese national who has been working in Singapore since 2009, phoned her boyfriend - now her husband - for help at about 3.35pm and met him at the Mushroom Cafe near the entrance of the park.

They lodged a police report that evening.

A tracker from the Gurkha contingent found the crime scene after a thorough search of the forest. Pieces of tissue paper on the ground were seized for forensic examination.

The next afternoon, another Gurkha tracker found the knife, which was also seized by police.

Liton was arrested at his worksite on the evening of Feb 10 after a fingerprint of his right thumb was lifted from the blade of the knife.

His semen was found on the tissue paper, the woman's panties and swabs taken from her body.

On Tuesday, Liton went on trial after he pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape, one count of sexual assault by penetration and one count of abduction for illicit intercourse.

When a sketch plan of part of the park, including the crime scene, was submitted in court, he said through a Bengali interpreter: "The map shows the left side of MacRitchie Park, I went to the right side."

Liton also said he "doesn't know anything about this knife" when a photograph of the weapon was shown to him.

The trial met with a minor hitch when Liton initially said he did not understand the sketch plan, prompting Justice Choo Han Teck to ask why he did not have a lawyer.

The prosecutor explained that Liton was previous represented by an assigned lawyer under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme but she eventually discharged herself and Liton did not want a lawyer.

The judge wanted to adjourn the case to another day to find legal representation for Liton but the DPP said the victim "has been waiting for this day for a long time" and had taken leave from work to testify.

The trial resumed after Liton's previous lawyer rushed to court and explained the circumstances to the judge behind closed doors.