SINGAPORE - A construction worker gave his phone numbers to a 12-year-old girl who caught his eye on the MRT, then sexually groomed her before taking her to secluded areas for sex.
On Friday (April 12), Bangladeshi Das Ratan Chandra, 41, was sentenced to 22 years' jail and 18 strokes of the cane after he pleaded guilty to three charges of statutory rape.
Another 22 charges, including 10 for sexual penetration of a minor and eight for circulation of obscene objects to a young person, were taken into consideration.
The offences, which took place between February and April 2017, came to light after the girl's mother chanced upon her behaving suspiciously during a video call with a man and went through her text messages.
The High Court heard that on Feb 5, 2017, the girl was taking the train with her grandparents when the accused, who was in the same carriage, noticed her.
He followed her and her grandparents when they alighted.
The grandparents were oblivious as he caught her attention, signalled her to call him and passed her two phone numbers.
She called him on the same day. He lied that he was 25 years old and she told him she was 12. As they continued to contact each other, he initiated chats of a sexual nature.
Two weeks after they met, he began sending her photographs of his genitalia and asked her to reciprocate. While she was initially reluctant, she eventually sent him sexually explicit photos of herself.
He also pestered her to have sex and she agreed to it at least five times.
On three occasions, he took her to Lower Peirce Reservoir Park. They also engaged in sexual acts at a shelter in Ang Mo Kio Town Garden East and an HDB void deck.
On April 23, the girl's mother became worried after seeing the volume of messages between the girl and the accused. She told the girl's father and stepmother.
The next day, the couple confiscated her phone and found sexually explicit text message exchanges with the accused.
They took the girl to lodge a police report on April 25. The man was arrested a day later.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Winston Man sought least 22 years' jail and 18 strokes of the cane, arguing that the accused had "deliberately and consciously cultivated the victim for sexual purposes".
In sentencing, Justice Aedit Abdullah accepted that grooming and cultivation of the victim was an aggravating factor as it indicated premeditation.