SINGAPORE - A man who raped a 12-year old schoolgirl in 2002 was caught by chance when he was arrested and investigated for theft in 2014.
On Wednesday (June 22), he pleaded guilty to the offence and was sent to jail to serve a 16½-year term and receive 18 strokes of the cane.
The High Court heard that Malaysian carpenter Lee Ah Choy, now 37, has a wife and a 10-year-old son living in Johor Baru and that they did not know about the offence, committed when he was 23 years old.
Lee was working in Singapore in 2002 and had seen the schoolgirl while he was on his morning jogs a few times. He took an instant liking to her. He would smile and greet her but she would ignore him.
However, on Oct 18 that year, at about 6.40am when she was on her way to school, he blocked her path. When she tried to leave, pulled her to a nearby block of flats. He took her to a fourth-floor corridor and made her sit on a flight of stairs between the fourth and fifth floors.
When she started crying, he threatened to cut her with a paper cutter. He then made her sit on a piece of cardboard at the end of the fourth floor corridor and sat between her legs.
He reached under her skirt and penetrated her with his finger. He also kissed her and unbuttoned her school blouse despite her struggles. A little later, he raped her.
After they dressed, they went separate ways. She made a police report and medical tests were done, but Lee's identity was not established.
However he was arrested and investigated for theft in 2014 and his DNA profile matched that of the rapist.
Besides rape, Lee also pleaded guilty to aggravated outrage of modesty and criminal intimidation. A fourth charge of abduction was taken into consideration in sentencing.
His lawyer Richard Siaw Kin Yeow said in mitigation: "His actions then were nothing more than a senseless and rash act, brought about by an ill-fated attraction to the victim and his immaturity."
Deputy Public Prosecutor Shahla Iqbal, who asked for a severe deterrent sentence, said: "The rape of a child is a heinous crime." She added that the victim said in a statement that she felt humiliated, and was "shocked and disgusted at (Lee's) behaviour".
She started going out with friends only after she began working, and started taking lifts alone in the daytime only a year after the incident.
Lee's jail term was backdated to Jan 23, 2015, when he was remanded. For raping a minor under 14 years of age, he could have been jailed up to 20 years, and punished with at least 12 strokes of the cane.