Ex-chauffeur, 52, gets 24 years' jail for raping neighbour when she was 11

SINGAPORE - He was 45 and had known her since she was born as they were neighbours.

She was 11 and treated him as her godfather, calling him "papa" at times.

The man, a chauffeur, exploited her infatuation with someone she met on Facebook and manipulated the Primary 5 schoolgirl into having sex with him at multi-storey carparks.

Throughout the six months when he sexually abused her, he repeatedly told her that sex was not a crime and even gave her a sex toy.

When the abuse came to light, he fled to Johor Baru and started a new life there, until his wife chanced upon him five years later and reported him to the Malaysian police.

On Monday (March 5), the man, who is now 52, was sentenced to 24 years' jail after he pleaded guilty to three charges of aggravated statutory rape and one charge of aggravated sexual assault by penetration.

Both offences carry at least 12 strokes of the cane but the man cannot be caned due to his age.

The High Court heard that the man, who has no children of his own, was close to the girl and her family. He bought her perfume, lip gloss, an MP3 player and a cake on her birthday and also paid for some of her tuition lessons.

In August 2010, when she was 11, she got to know someone named Charles on Facebook and told the man about it. The man lied that he was the driver for a man whose children attended an American school and he could pass messages to Charles on her behalf.

The girl believed the man, who would often talk to her about Charles to get close to her. The identity of Charles remains unknown, the court heard.

Once, while the girl was at the man's flat, he led her to the highest floor of their block, leaving his wife cooking in the kitchen. At the staircase landing, he sexually assaulted her and told her not to tell anyone.

The man also seized the opportunity to rape her on Saturday afternoons, when she was supposed to be attending tuition between noon and 2pm.

In October 2010, he waited for her along her route to the tuition centre and led her to his sister's car at a multi-storey carpark. The girl, thinking he was taking her shopping, sat in the back seat as he drove the car to a higher, more secluded floor.

The man joined her in the back seat and told her that Charles had been injured in school while playing soccer, which made her upset. He consoled her, before proceeding to rape her.

The following week, he told her to meet him 15 minutes before her tuition class. He then took her to his employer's car, drove her to another multi-storey carpark, and raped her in the back seat.

He sent her home just after 2pm, the time her tuition lesson was supposed to have ended.

In January 2011, when she was in Primary 6, the girl began crying in school because the man had told her that Charles had an accident in Malaysia and was suffering in California. The man had also promised to take her to visit Charles in California.

Her teacher referred her to the counsellor when she said she was having a "relationship problem". During the session, she told the counsellor about Charles as well as her sexual activities with her godfather.

This was reported to the principal, who asked to see her family members. In the principal's office, the girl started crying because she did not want the man to get into trouble as this would ruin her chance of meeting Charles. Her elder brother, then 16, made a police report that evening.

When the man found out about the police report, he packed some belongings and drove his employer's car into Johor Baru, where he later married another woman through customary rites.

On July 26, 2016, his wife saw him by chance in JB and confronted him. He was jailed in Malaysia for immigration offences and repatriated back to Singapore on Sept 1, 2016.

In a statement to the court, the victim said she constantly cried and wondered why her godfather would leave Singapore when he had always told her that "sex is not a crime".

"Never have I lived life full of negativity, but (the man) destroyed me completely," she said.