CEO who sexually assaulted son's schoolmate loses appeal

SINGAPORE - The Court of Appeal on Wednesday (Aug 7) rejected arguments by a former chief executive, who is serving jail time for sexual offences against his son's nine-year-old schoolmate, that the boy had lied about being abused.

The 49-year-old, a foreign national, was appealing against his conviction and sentence of 14 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane for sexually assaulting the victim during a Halloween sleepover in 2015.

He cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim.

Among other things, his lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam argued that the boy could have made up the allegations of sexual assault to placate his father for having to fetch him from the man's house at close to midnight.

However, the three-judge appeal court concluded that the boy had "absolutely no motive" to falsely accuse his friend's father of such acts.

"All the evidence pointed to the fact that this nine-year-old boy could not have been dreaming or fantasising or telling a blatant lie to seek attention," said Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang.

On Oct 31, 2015, the man and his wife threw a Halloween party at their house.

The victim, a friend of their youngest son, was one of those invited to the party and the sleepover afterwards.

The boy testified that he pretended to be asleep when the man entered the room at night and touched his genitals.

After the man left and re-entered the room, performing oral sex on him twice, the boy decided to pack his belongings.

The boy told the man that he was not feeling well, and asked to call his father on the phone to take him home.

He spoke softly to his father in French, using words to the effect of "get me out of here", so that the man and his wife would not understand.

Once in the car, the boy told his father what had happened to him.

When the boy's father confronted the man, the boy crouched on the floorboard and refused to repeat the allegations because he was "very scared".

The boy threw away the pyjamas he wore that night a few days later. It was on the advice of his school counsellor that the family called the police.

The man maintained his innocence during his trial, offering various reasons for why the boy would falsely implicate him.

He suggested that the boy had lied to escape his father's wrath for having to miss the "live" telecast of the rugby World Cup final in order to pick him up.

He also suggested that the boy had made up the allegations as a form of attention-seeking behaviour or that he had imagined the sexual assault because he was shaken by the Halloween atmosphere.

On Wednesday, Mr Thuraisingam highlighted that the boy's father, a rugby fan, could have been annoyed at having to pick the boy up and that it was quite a distance to travel from his home to the man's house.

However, the appeal court, which also comprised Judge of Appeal Steven Chong and Justice Woo Bih Li, was not persuaded.

"Having just had an enjoyable Halloween party, his abrupt decision to go home at close to midnight was very telling," said the court.

"It is clear to us that he was scared, not because he had just told a terrible lie against an adult who was now standing near him but because he was genuinely afraid after experiencing the terrible things that the appellant had done in the bedroom."

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