Man jailed for underage sex; victim now wife

-- ST ILLUSTRATION: MIEL
-- ST ILLUSTRATION: MIEL

Unusual case but accused cannot be condoned for sex with girl: Judge

In what is believed to be the first case of its kind here, a Singaporean man was jailed yesterday for having sex with an underage girl who is now his wife.

District Judge Mathew Joseph said yesterday that the case was "unusual".

He said it was the first case of underage sex he has heard where the victim and accused are now a married couple.

While the judge said he was prepared to consider the case differently, he said the court did not condone the accused for having sex with the minor - who was then 15 - as the couple were not married at the time of the offence.

The accused, a 32-year-old computer technician, married the Singaporean girl in Indonesia a year ago, when she was 16.

His wife, now 17, was in court together with his six-year-old daughter from a previous marriage.

The judge added that he hoped the accused would put the past behind him for the sake of his wife - who is now seven months pregnant - and their unborn child.

The sex offences came to light when the accused was probed by the police for a forgery offence.

For having sex with the minor, the accused was sentenced to six months in jail.

Together with the sex offences, the accused pleaded guilty to 15 charges last month - mostly for cheating - and was sentenced to a total of 18 months behind bars yesterday.

The court ordered that the names of the accused and victim be withheld.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Victor Lim told the court last month that the victim befriended the accused some time between 2008 and 2009 while playing an online game.

She was then around 12 or 13.

The two entered into a relationship in December 2011.

In the same month, the accused told the victim that he wanted to have sex with her. After she agreed, he drove her to a hotel in Geylang.

Their next sexual encounter took place early last year, when she was living with the accused at his Sembawang flat.

Soon after that, the victim discovered that she was pregnant. The accused, who was then divorced, made plans to marry her.

For one of the forgery offences, the court heard that the accused had faked a letter purportedly from the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in March, after his girlfriend told him that she wanted to quit her studies at a secondary school.

Mr Lim said the accused came up with the idea to state in the letter that his girlfriend was suffering from depression and was therefore unfit to attend school.

To forge the letter, he went to the IMH's website and made a soft copy of the institute's letterhead. He printed the letter and signed off as "Dr Sharon Chan".

He then handed it to his girlfriend's mother to submit to the school.

The girlfriend was let off with a conditional warning over the matter.

The other offences involved the accused cheating SingTel, his business partners and other persons.

He had forged authorisation letters that were submitted to SingTel for the telco to deliver mobile phones to him.

He has previous convictions for theft, cheating, forgery, providing false information and criminal breach of trust.

The maximum penalty for underage sex, cheating or forgery is 10 years' jail and a fine on each charge.

For criminal breach of trust, the maximum penalty is seven years' jail and a fine.

elena@sph.com.sg