A self-styled spiritual "master" was yesterday sentenced to 12 years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane for raping a woman who had sought help from him to get rid of "ghosts" in her flat.
Ow Siew Hoe, 49, also known as Ow-Yong Siew Hoe, had admitted in March to sexually assaulting the 35-year-old in 2014 when she became drowsy after drinking a cup of "holy water" he had given her.
When she later confronted him about what he had done, he claimed he was forced to use his sperm to save the ghosts he had fought and hurt as, otherwise, she or her husband would have died.
In sentencing Ow yesterday, Justice Chan Seng Onn noted that he caused the woman to feel suicidal and to suffer trauma, resulting in her experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Your heinous sexual acts have inflicted a lasting psychological impact on the victim," said the judge, as Ow kept his head bowed.
Justice Chan noted that Ow had abused the woman's trust and belief that he had spiritual powers and "methodically planned" to lure her to his flat by exploiting her fear of the supernatural.
In February 2014, the Malaysian woman, who is married to a Singaporean, began to believe there were ghosts in her flat after observing her pets behaving strangely.
The sales assistant suspected the "presence" had something to do with her father-in-law and his girlfriend, who recently moved in with her and her husband.
She confided her fears to her husband but he did not share her suspicions.
She then sought advice from her mother-in-law, who told her that her sister knew a "powerful master" - Ow - who could help her.
On Feb 20, 2014, after checking her flat, Ow told her there were "dirty things" in the unit but he could help her get rid of them.
Over the next few days, he created the impression that the matter was serious and urgent, and told the woman to go to his flat to collect items to protect her against the supernatural beings.
On the afternoon of Feb 25, when she went to his flat, Ow told her to drink some "holy water". As she became drowsy and giddy, he led her to a room, took off her clothes and raped her. She tried to push him away but was too weak to do so.
After the rape, she met her husband for dinner but did not tell him what had happened.
That night, she called Ow and asked him why he had raped her.
Ow told her that he had fought with the "ghosts" in her flat and hurt them. He told her that she or her husband would have died if he had not saved the ghosts.
On Feb 27, after talking to two friends, she made a police report. Ow was arrested the next day.
Yesterday, in seeking 12 years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane, prosecutors noted that two years on, the emotional and psychological scars have not healed. The victim still has flashbacks and fears going out alone.
Deputy Public Prosecutor David Khoo urged Justice Chan to infer that Ow had drugged the woman, although there was no conclusive evidence. Sedatives, such as Xanax and Dormicum, were found in Ow's flat and there was no other reasonable explanation for the woman suddenly feeling weak, said the DPP.
Ow's lawyer, Mr Ramesh Tiwary, noted that by pleading guilty, his client had spared the victim the trauma of testifying in a trial. He said that Ow had been alone with other women who consulted him but he had never misbehaved, and "totally regrets" what he had done.