Man gets jail, cane for sexually assaulting 9-year-old boy

A MAN who sexually assaulted a nine-year-old boy after the boy helped him wash plates in a foodcourt was jailed for 10 years and ordered to be given 15 strokes of the cane yesterday.

Benjamin Francis, 44, committed four serious offences against the then Primary 3 pupil at the staircase landing of a multi-storey carpark in Tanglin Halt Road in November 2011. He had just been released from prison.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kavita Uthrapathy said the homeless and divorced father of one had "selected" the child, on the pretext of getting him to help wash the plates - and the boy "paid a heavy price for his kindness".

She said the boy was on his way home from his grandmother's flat at around 7pm on Nov 7 that year when he met a friend and went to Koufu foodcourt in Tanglin Halt Road to buy a meal.

There, Francis, who was washing some plates, asked them to help him. The friend ran away, leaving the victim who agreed to assist. By the time he had finished, it was close to midnight.

The DPP said Francis grabbed the victim by his T-shirt and pulled him away to a multi-storey carpark nearby.

He led him to the third-level staircase landing where he made the boy lie on flattened cardboard, took off the victim's trousers and molested him.

Feeling pain, the boy pleaded with Francis to let him go but he ignored his cries. Subsequently, he performed oral sex on the boy.

When he tried to get the victim to perform a sexual act on him, the boy vomited. In the commotion, the boy struggled, put on his clothes and managed to run away. A passer-by found him crying and called the police.

Francis was arrested while sleeping at the 24th-floor staircase landing of a nearby block.

The DPP said he had an "illustrious criminal career" and committed his latest crime after having just been released from prison. The acts he perpetrated on the victim were done after deliberation and with premeditation.

District Judge Kamala Ponnampalam said: "What made these offences particularly alarming is the very young age of the victim, who was only nine years old at the time of the offences."

Francis had admitted to molesting the victim and performing oral sex on him in the wee hours of Nov 8, 2011.

Two other charges of attempted sexual penetration of the minor were considered during his sentencing.

Francis was previously convicted of criminal intimidation and theft. He was last convicted and sentenced to two years' jail and six strokes for attempted robbery in 2010.