SINGAPORE - A 34-year-old technician accused of raping his biological daughter when she was 14, testified in his trial on Thursday (Sept 7) that he was pressured by two police officers into confessing after being told he had failed a polygraph test.
The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the girl, said he was persistently told on April 2, 2015, to admit to the offences as the police checked his records and found that he was an ex-convict who has been to jail.
He said that during a break in the interview session, he sent a text message to his wife, who was waiting outside.
The man told her that the two officers kept asking him to admit to the offences, and she replied that if he did not do it, he should not admit to it.
But the accused said he eventually gave a "false" confession under pressure.
"They kept asking me and I felt very pressured. I was confused. I thought of a lie and I lied to them. All I wanted to do was to leave the room," he said through a Mandarin interpreter.
Details of his criminal records were not revealed in court.
The man is fighting two charges of raping his daughter, the eldest of his three children, at the family's flat in Punggol on Nov 19, 2014, and on Jan 9, 2015.
The girl is now 17 years old and staying at a shelter for teenage girls. On the first day of the trial on Monday, the court heard that her mother and grandparents did not believe her and blamed her for reporting the matter. She testified behind closed doors on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In his first statement to the police, the man denied raping her.
On April 2, 2015, a second statement was taken from him, in which he admitted having sex with her. The details he provided largely coincided with the particulars of the second charge, said prosecutors.
The accused is challenging the admissibility of this statement, contending that it cannot be admitted as evidence against him in court as it was not made voluntarily.
Hence, a "trial within a trial", known in legal parlance as a voir dire, is being conducted, solely to determine whether the statement can be admitted as evidence.
Taking the stand to give his account of how the statement was taken, the man said he was first told by the investigating officer of the case, Assistant Superintendent Samantha Xu, that he had failed a polygraph test.
Replying to questions from his lawyer, Mr A. Revi Shanker, the man said ASP Xu and a "non-Chinese" male officer told him to admit to the offences.
ASP Xu was asking him questions, while the male officer paced the room and chimed in whenever his answers were not the ones they wanted, he said.
However, two police officers testified that they did not coerce the man to confess and that at any one time, only one of them was in the room with the man.
ASP Xu said she was alone when she recorded the man's statement.
The other officer, ASP Vimala Raj, said he went into the room and spoke to the man alone for "five to 10 minutes" and advised him to tell the truth.
When asked if ASP Raj was the one present in the room that day, the accused said the officer "looks very familiar" but he could not be sure.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Winston Man asked for his cross-examination of the accused to be stood down, saying that the prosecution wants to verify the text messages between him and his wife.
The accused said he called telco Singtel on Wednesday to see if the SMS messages can be retrieved and was told too much time has passed. He said his younger brother is still trying.