Jail, cane for sexual assault on niece, 10

46-year-old's act left girl feeling betrayed and distressed

A man who sexually assaulted his 10-year-old niece in 2013 was yesterday sentenced to 81/2 years in jail and eight strokes of the cane.

The man, now 46, pleaded guilty to one charge of sexual assault by penetration. One count of using criminal force to outrage the modesty of a young person was taken into account in sentencing.

He cannot be named to protect the girl's identity.

A District Court heard that the girl was very close to the man and his wife, who is the girl's maternal aunt.

She would often stay over at their flat during her school holidays and over long weekends.

On Aug 15, 2013, the uncle picked the girl up from her Toa Payoh home at night. He left her alone to watch television in his flat at about 10pm.

He returned around midnight reeking of alcohol.

About an hour later, he asked the girl to go to sleep. She went to the master bedroom, where she slept whenever she stayed over.

Shortly afterwards, he lay down beside her. He was wearing boxers and she was in her pyjamas.

He began to cuddle her, thinking she was asleep. She did not suspect anything amiss and kept her eyes closed.

However, the uncle then abused her sexually with his finger. He stopped when she cried in pain, the court heard.

"Confused and frightened, the victim continued lying on the bed with her eyes closed," Deputy Public Prosecutor Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz told the court. "She fell asleep only after hearing the accused snoring."

Over the next few days, the girl remained troubled over the incident, but was afraid of telling her parents about it as she was very close to her aunt.

On Aug 23, she finally told her mother about the incident. The mother contacted her sister and the women agreed that the girl would no longer see her uncle.

The following month, the girl's father found out and insisted that a police report be made. He had read a series of text messages from the girl's phone in which she expressed distress at not being able to see her aunt anymore.

A child psychiatrist who assessed the girl on Oct 21, 2013, found that she treated her uncle and aunt like her "real parents".

The psychiatrist noted that the girl reported feeling sad, betrayed and disappointed with her uncle.

She was also distressed because her aunt blamed her for what happened.

It was also noted that she had recurrent thoughts about the assault and this affected her mood, sleep, appetite and desire to attend school.

The maximum punishment for sexual assault by penetration is 20 years' jail with a fine and caning.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2016, with the headline 'Jail, cane for sexual assault on niece, 10'. Print Edition | Subscribe