Football coach, 28, gets 26 years' jail, caning for sexually assaulting seven boys

SINGAPORE - A football coach was sentenced to 26 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane for sexually assaulting seven boys aged between eight and 11.

Bernard Tan Meng Soon, 28, pleaded guilty on Monday morning (March 19) to five charges of sexual assault.

Twenty other charges of sexual assault by penetration were taken into consideration.

Judge Valerie Thean found that "there was a degree of premeditation" on Tan's part. But she also noted that his guilty plea saved the victims the trauma of trial.

Tan, a diagnosed paedophile after he committed his offences, took on the role of football team coach and actively recruited young boys to join his team.

Gaining access to these boys, he deliberately sought to isolate them in public places like toilet cubicles, where he would perform oral sex on the victims and "gratify his own perverse desires", prosecutors said.

"In doing so, he exploited the inherent vulnerability of the victims as children of tender age, and gravely abused his position of trust and authority as their football coach," Deputy Public Prosecutors David Khoo and James Chew said.

In pleading guilty on Monday, Tan told the court: "I know I have done wrong."

He was arrested on Oct 1, 2015, and has been in remand since Oct 3, 2015.

The prosecution sought a global sentence of at least 27 years' imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane.

Tan's defence lawyer sought a jail term of less than 20 years, and argued that his client was himself sodomised by his bus driver when he was 15.