Man who raped schoolgirl in 2002 caught 12 years later

Lee, who pleaded guilty to rape and other charges, had taken a liking to the girl when he saw her on his morning jogs.
Lee, who pleaded guilty to rape and other charges, had taken a liking to the girl when he saw her on his morning jogs.

Malaysian was identified as rapist via DNA when he was caught for theft in 2014; he gets 16½ years' jail, 18 strokes

A man who raped a 12-year-old schoolgirl in 2002 was caught by chance when he was arrested and investigated for an unrelated theft in 2014.

Yesterday, he pleaded guilty to rape and was sentenced to 16½ years in jail and 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. 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 Secondary 1 girl, who is also Malaysian, several times during his morning jogs. He took an instant liking to her.

He would smile at her or greet her but she would ignore him and rebuff his advances.

But on Oct 18 that year, at about 6.40am, when she was on her way to school, he blocked her path, telling her not to go to school.

She walked away but he followed her and asked her to help hand some money to his "god-sister" living nearby.

When she tried to move away from him again, he pulled her to a nearby block of flats. He took her to the fourth floor 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. She kicked and thrashed about as he restrained her in the fourth-floor corridor.

He molested her despite her struggles before raping her.

She made a police report after leaving the scene. Medical tests were done but her attacker's identity could not be established.

In 2014, Lee was arrested and investigated for theft 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 during sentencing.

His lawyer, Mr 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 (DPP) Shahla Iqbal, who asked for a severe deterrent sentence, said: "The rape of a child is a heinous crime."

She added that the victim had said in a statement that she felt humiliated, and was "shocked and disgusted at (Lee's) behaviour".

She dropped out of school, lost interest in studies at one point and had nightmares. She took lifts alone in the daytime again only a year after the incident and started going out with friends only after she began working.

Said DPP Shahla: "It is necessary to send a clear message to all potential offenders that sexual assaults on children and young persons will not be tolerated."

Lee's jail term was backdated to Jan 23 last year, 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2016, with the headline 'Man who raped schoolgirl in 2002 caught 12 years later'. Print Edition | Subscribe