A 13-year-old student was at the Singapore Botanic Gardens one morning to attend a sports training session when a gardener showed him an obscene image on his mobile phone, a court heard.
When Chua Ah Guan, 59, saw the Secondary 1 student at Jacob Ballas Children's Garden on Dec 23 last year, he called out to him in Mandarin, saying he had something to show him. Chua had been working there for about a year.
The victim turned and walked towards Chua, who showed him a photo of genitalia on his mobile phone. On seeing it, the victim yelled "pervert" in Mandarin and called for help.
A full-time national serviceman heard the shout and approached the victim, who asked for the police to be called. Although Chua apologised repeatedly to the victim, he disappeared before the police arrived at the scene. The national serviceman and the victim then gave a description of Chua to the police.
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With the help of other gardeners, the police drew Chua to the Plant Research Centre and detained him there. Further investigation showed that Chua had downloaded the picture from Facebook. It was one of 157 such images in his phone.
The prosecution sought four months' jail for Chua, saying there was an element of corruption and a need to guard against exposing such obscene objects or materials to young victims.
However, Chua's lawyer, Mr Victor Leong, pleaded for a fine instead, saying that what his client did was "totally out of character".
Sentencing Chua to two weeks' jail yesterday, District Judge Kessler Soh said that young children in particular must be protected from the corrupting influences of obscene material. A deterrent sentence was thus necessary. "Such acts are repugnant and offensive to public decency. In my judgment, the starting point in sentencing would be a term in custody," he said.
Two months ago, American mixed martial arts instructor Joshua Robinson, 39, was given six months' jail for showing an obscene film to a six-year-old girl, among other offences.
Judge Soh said he felt that Chua's case did not warrant four months' jail as sought by the prosecution. He said what Chua showed the boy for a "brief, fleeting moment" was a part of the human anatomy. There was no evidence that the image related to a sexual act.
Yesterday, the judge turned down the prosecution's application for a stay of execution.
Judge Soh also dismissed the prosecutor's request to defer Chua's sentence so that the Attorney-General's Chambers could file papers in the High Court. He said Chua was already in the courts' lock-up and had begun serving sentence.
"I see no reason to defer the sentence in this case," he said.
Chua could have been jailed for up to one year and/or fined for showing an obscene object to a person below 21 years old.
Correction note: An earlier version of this story stated that Chua Ah Guan was jailed twice before in the 1990s for similar offences. This is untrue. We are sorry for the error.