4 years' jail and caning for man who molested eight-year-old neighbour twice

SINGAPORE - A 47-year-old man who showed pornographic videos to his eight-year-old neighbour and molested her twice in three months was on Thursday (Sept 12) sentenced to four years' jail and nine strokes of the cane.

The man, who is married with no children, pleaded guilty to two charges of aggravated molestation on Tuesday, with two charges of showing obscene objects to the victim taken into consideration.

On Thursday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Marshall Lim described the man's actions against the young victim as wicked, premeditated and an abuse of trust.

There was great trust between the family of the man's wife and the victim's family, who have been next-door neighbours since the 1980s, and this trust extended to the man when he moved in with his wife's family, said the DPP.

The DPP argued that showing obscene images to the girl was an "overt act of sexual grooming by desensitising the victim to sexual activity through inappropriate exposure to sexual content".

He sought five years' jail and nine strokes of the cane.

"His acts of lust would leave an indelible mark on the life of a young innocent child, and destroyed the close, almost three-decade friendship shared between the two families."

Defence counsel Peter Fernando conceded that it was an aggravating factor to show obscene images to the girl, but he argued that it was a gross exaggeration to say it was tantamount to sexual grooming.

 
 
 
 

Mr Fernando said the victim had, on multiple occasions, on her own accord and in privacy, viewed obscene sexual content using her father's laptop. There was no evidence that his client had taught her how to download sexual content, said the lawyer.

He added that there was no psychological or physical trauma to the victim arising from the offences.

The lawyer added that his client has sought spiritual guidance to turn his life around and volunteers regularly in church with his wife, who has been "extremely supportive".

He sought a two-year jail term and added that his client and his wife are sorry to the victim and her parents for what he did.

In sentencing, Justice Pang Khang Chau noted the very young age of the victim and that there was abuse of trust given the close relationship between the two families.

The judge agreed with the prosecution that the acts were premeditated rather than opportunistic, as argued by the defence.

This degree of premeditation was higher in the second incident, he noted, when the man arranged a meeting with the victim at her house and made efforts to lie to his wife about his whereabouts.

The first incident took place on Sept 4, 2017, after the man went over to the victim's house after her father asked him to help fix the water heater.

After the repairs were done, the man left the house but returned - after her father had left for work - and went up to the second floor, where the girl was using the laptop in her parents' bedroom.

He showed the victim an obscene photo and video on his mobile phone, then touched her inappropriately.

She pushed him out the door and tried to shut it, but relented after he begged her. He entered the room again and pulled down her underwear.

On Dec 1, 2017, the man left for his workplace, Marina Bay Sands, with his wife on his motorcycle, pretending that he had to go to work.

The court heard that he had lied to his wife that he had some "packing work" to do, and at the same time, arranged with the girl to go to her house.

Leaving his wife to shop at MBS, the man went to the victim's house on his bike, and used a gate key entrusted to his in-laws to enter the house.

Inside her parents' bedroom, the victim used her laptop and searched for "sex videos" on the Internet.

They watched pornography together, before the man undressed them both, touched her and rubbed himself against her.

Over the next three days, the girl told her mother to get the key back from the neighbours and that the man had come into their house, showed her an obscene video and touched her.

The victim's mother eventually confronted the man on Dec 6 and a police report was made.