Teen who raped girl when he was 14 'not suitable for reformative training', says doctor

SINGAPORE - A High Court hearing started on Monday (Oct 30) to determine whether a mildly intellectually disabled teenage boy who committed rape when he was 14 years old, is suitable for reformative training.

The teen had pleaded guilty in February to raping and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl - a total stranger - in 2014 while he was on bail for a spate of other offences.

Prosecutors are seeking 15 to 18 years' jail and at least 15 strokes of the cane for the boy, who is now 16 years old.

However, his assigned lawyers argue that he should be sent for reformative training, a structured regime for offenders aged below 21. A stint at the reformative training centre, or RTC, can last between 18 months and three years.

A hearing is being held to determine whether the boy is suitable to undergo reformative training, as well as his risk of reoffending and his prospect of rehabilitation.

The prosecution has lined up six witnesses to testify, including psychiatrists, psychologists and corrections officers.

On Monday, prison pychiatrist Rajesh Jacob testified that the boy, with a full scale IQ of 61, was not suitable for reformative training as he lacked the cognitive abilities to understand the programmes.

Dr Jacob, who saw the boy three times, noted that he had failed his PSLE twice and made the lowest score in the country.

Reformative training, which includes group sessions, lectures, homework and counselling, requires a certain level of cognitive functioning, said the senior consultant.

Participants have to be able to understand and retain information on the triggers and consequences of offending and to work on ways to reduce offending, he said.

"If he doesn't have the capacity to understand the intervention, he will not benefit from it, through no fault of his," said Dr Jacob.

The hearing continues next Monday.

In July 2014, the teen was given bail for offences including burglary and snatch theft committed against an 80-year-old man. In September, while out on bail, he misappropriated a skateboard. In October, he molested a 21-year-old woman.

On Nov 21, 2014, he spotted the victim at a traffic light junction and decided to follow her to her block of flats.

He got in the lift with her and followed her out at her stop. At the lift lobby just three doors away from her flat, he hugged and kissed her and sexually assaulted her.

After the attack, he said "bye bye", and left.