SINGAPORE - A 63-year-old retiree who performed oral sex on a 12-year-old boy in a park toilet had his jail term increased from the minimum of eight years to 11 years on Tuesday (June 26), following an appeal by prosecutors for harsher punishment.
Out of the additional three years' jail handed down to Chua Hock Leong by the Court of Appeal, six months was imposed in lieu of caning.
The offence carries a mandatory minimum of 12 strokes of the cane but Chua cannot be caned as he is more than 50 years old.
Chua was first sentenced last year for sexually assaulting the 12-year-old in a handicapped toilet at Tampines Eco Green in Tampines Avenue 9. At the time, the High Court judge declined the prosecution's request to impose extra jail time in lieu of caning.
The prosecution then filed an appeal, asking for Chua's prison sentence to be increased to 12 years, as well as an additional 24 weeks' jail in lieu of caning.
On Tuesday, a three-judge Court of Appeal allowed the appeal, by raising Chua's prison sentence to 10½ years, as well as imposing an extra six months' jail in lieu of caning, making it a total of 11 years.
Judge of Appeal Andrew Phang said the extra six months' jail was warranted to compensate for the deterrent effect that was lost by the exemption from caning.
The judge noted that Chua was 61 years old when he committed the offence.
Generally, men who are of a similar age know they cannot be caned on account of their age, he said. This underscores the importance of deterring others from committing such crimes.
Chua was at least five times the age of the victim, but instead of advising the boy not to play truant, he preyed on the victim to satisfy his own depraved sexual desires, said the court.
In explaining why it raised Chua's jail term, the court noted aggravating factors, including the psychological harm caused to the victim and Chua's lack of remorse.
The court pointed out that Chua sought to portray the boy as the sexual predator who propositioned him. The court also noted that the boy is now afraid of older men and no longer goes out on his own.
On the morning of Jan 27, 2016, the boy was waiting for his friend to be dismissed from school when he said "hi" to Chua.
The two had never met before. The boy said Chua gave him $2 in return for going with him to the park.
The boy said he went to use the toilet cubicle and Chua barged in and performed oral sex on him. After about a minute, the boy pushed him away and ran out. His mother later made a police report.