Serial child molester preyed on young children over period of 12 years

Tahir Hassan was sentenced to 11½ years in jail and 15 strokes of the cane after being found guilty of outrage of modesty and sexual penetration.
Tahir Hassan was sentenced to 11½ years in jail and 15 strokes of the cane after being found guilty of outrage of modesty and sexual penetration. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A 49-year-old man who molested several young children over the span of 12 years received 11½ years of jail and 15 strokes of the cane on Friday (Aug 12).

Tahir Hassan, previously a sorter and packer at a supermarket, would randomly visit housing estates to sell items such as massage lotion and perfume. While doing so, he would target young children at void decks and playgrounds, whom he would molest. In 2005, he started selling light sticks to children and would go into their homes when their parents were out. 

He was found guilty of six charges involving outrage of modesty and, in one case, sexual penetration. Six other charges were taken into consideration in sentencing.

Among Tahir's victims were a pair of siblings living in Ang Mo Kio, who were alone at home around 10.30am when he came to their flat with a bag of light sticks. Upon learning that their parents were not around, he asked them to open the door and sat on the sofa with the boy and girl in front of him. He touched the boy and asked him to go and bathe before instructing the girl to remove her clothing and molesting her.

In 2010, he approached a Secondary 1 and Primary 1 girl, who were neighbourhood friends, at a void deck in Toa Payoh. He offered to teach them mathematics, “cure” them and make them smarter. He asked them to look for certain types of leaves and flowers and led them to the staircase of the 39th floor of another block. There, he put on a pair of surgical gloves and touched them on the pretext of a “treatment” ritual.

Tahir, who admitted that he started having the sexual urge to touch small children in 1995, was also found guilty of an offence dating back to 2003.

In September that year, he approached an eight-year-old visually impaired girl who was on her way to buy sweets with her brother in Marsiling Drive. The pair were at a void deck when he asked the girl’s brother to go off first and the girl to follow him. On the pretext of curing her eye, he pulled down her shorts at a staircase landing of the Housing Board block and molested her. The girl went home later, crying.

In mitigation, lawyer Ms Sadhana Rai said that Tahir committed serious offences and was “remorseful for having committed (them).” 

She added he had been “very sick” for a long period of time, going undiagnosed with the disorder of paedophilia. While this itself was not a mitigating factor, she said it was a disorder that could have been controlled.

“It is a condition that needs to be treated,” she said, as a person may not be aware they were suffering from it and that it could have been addressed.

She also argued that the “degree of premeditation is questionable,” and that Tahir had been “opportunistic” when he committed the acts, with no violence inflicted or drugs used.

Deputy Public Prosecutor James Chew called it a “serious case where it was a series of numerous offences” committed against young children in their neighbourhoods and homes. 

It was not a one-off situation, he said, disagreeing with Ms Rai as well that Tahir acted on the spur of the moment. “He, in fact, had a specific modus operandi of committing these offences." 

He added that it was in the public interest that deterrence be considered in sentencing.