Jail, caning for ex-SAF regular who raped friend and preyed on 10-year-old; judge highlights child's use of Tinder

SINGAPORE - A 24-year-old serial sex offender, who raped a former schoolmate and preyed on other victims while he was on bail, was sentenced to 14 years' jail and 15 strokes of the cane on Wednesday (Aug 4).

In sentencing the former Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) regular serviceman, a High Court judge highlighted the use of a dating app by the man's youngest victim - a 10-year-old girl he met on Tinder.

"I have no doubt that there will be general consternation that the victim... was able to access a dating app, which would have been meant for adults or at least a much older teen," said Justice Aedit Abdullah.

"The circumstances of her use of this app are not before me, but I again would trust that the matter is being looked into now, if it has not been before, by the relevant agencies and technology companies involved."

The accused cannot be named due to a gag order to protect the identities of his victims, two of whom are his former secondary schoolmates.

He raped one friend in 2018 when she was drunk, and likely passed a sexually transmitted disease to her.

Three months later, while on bail, he molested another friend after tricking her into going to a hotel.

In 2019, he got a 10-year-old girl he met on Tinder to send him a nude photograph of herself.

The judge said the fact that the accused committed offences while on bail was a substantial aggravating factor.

"There is a strong degree of incorrigibility that has to be deterred and punished, overriding any leniency for a plea of guilt," he said.

The accused admitted in court that he had a sexual fetish for young girls - his search terms on pornographic websites included "rape young girls".

He pleaded guilty last week to one charge each of rape, outrage of modesty and procuring the commission of an indecent act by a child.

Three other charges - one each for sexual assault by penetration, outrage of modesty and sexual penetration of a minor - were taken into consideration.

The court heard that he met one former schoolmate for drinks on the night of June 10, 2018. The woman, then 22, trusted him as a good friend.

After she became intoxicated, he took her to his flat, where he sexually assaulted and raped her in the early hours of June 11.

When she awoke later that morning, he accompanied her to the bus stop, without telling her what he had done.

She became suspicious when she reached home, and questioned him in a text message. He eventually admitted that he had sex with her while she was unconscious.

She went to the KK Women's and Children's Hospital, where she was told to lodge a police report.

A medical report said the man likely transmitted chlamydia, a sexual disease, to the woman, who had no other sexual partners.

In September 2018, the man met another friend for drinks after he saw from her Instagram that she was having relationship problems.

At the bar, he kept touching her breast despite her telling him to stop.

He then booked a Grab car and took her to a Geylang hotel, ignoring her request to go home.

She followed him to a hotel room because he was holding on to her bag.

In the room, he tried to have sex with her, but she told him to stop and he went to sleep upon realising that his attempts were futile.

She left the room at about 4am when he was asleep and lodged a police report that night.

In June 2019, he got to know a 10-year-old girl on Tinder; she told him she was 11.

They continued chatting on messaging app Telegram and when he dared her to send him a nude photo, she obliged with a photo of her exposed right breast.

His phone was seized during police investigations and it was discovered that he had sexually violated a 15-year-old girl in 2015 while they were watching a movie in the cinema.

In response to media queries, the Ministry of Defence said that following his arrest, the serviceman was suspended from all duties. "With the conclusion of the court process, the SAF has discharged him from service," it said.

The statement added: "The SAF holds its servicemen to high standards of discipline and integrity, and expects them to abide by the law. Those who commit offences will be dealt with in accordance with the law."