SINGAPORE - A jobless man, who was the godfather of two young brothers, offered to house the boys and their mother in his one-room flat after learning that they were staying at a crisis shelter.
But during the two-month stay in his flat, the 32-year-old man sexually assaulted the older boy, then 12, and molested the younger boy, who turned 11 in December that year.
His name, as well as the names of his victims, their mother, and their grandfather cannot be disclosed due to a gag order.
The victims, who were abused between October and December 2019, did not tell anyone about it initially as they were worried about being thrown out onto the streets again.
It was only when they moved to their own flat in January last year that they told their mother what had happened.
On Monday (March 22), the accused pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual assault by penetration in relation to the older boy.
Three other counts - one for sexually assaulting the older boy, one for molesting the younger boy, and one unrelated charge for causing hurt to a bus driver - will be taken into consideration when he is sentenced.
The man has past convictions, including for molesting a woman in 2015.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Marcus Foo and Chong Kee En sought at least 19 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane.
"The accused took advantage of the precarious situation of a single mother, and perpetrated heinous sexual abuses on her young children," they said in sentencing submissions.
Defence counsel Ranadhir Gupta asked for the "minimum sentence".
Under the law, each charge of sexual assault by penetration of a minor carries the minimum punishment of eight years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane.
Justice Mavis Chionh adjourned sentencing to April 13.
The court heard that the accused and his wife were the boys' godparents and had known them for three years before the offences.
In 2019, the boys and their mother were evicted from their home due to a family dispute. The boys' father had abandoned the family about 10 years ago.
The trio stayed at a shelter while their rental flat application was pending, but the accused and his wife later offered to take them in at their own flat.
At the time, the boys were under a safety plan by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) due to their mother's lack of adequate parenting skills.
She raised the offer to care workers, who allowed the stay at the accused's flat. Sometime later, the boys' grandfather also stayed there.
The accused, whom the boys called "Papa", played video games with them, signed their school consent forms and was often left to care for them when the other adults were not around.
He tried unsuccessfully to have the boys withdrawn from their school's after-care programme so that he could spend more time with them.
The court heard that at the flat, the older boy slept on the same mattress as the accused and his wife, while the younger boy slept on another mattress with his mother and grandfather.
During that time, his wife declined his request for sex as she was having a urinary tract infection. To satisfy his urges, the man carried out penetrative sexual acts on the victim while the rest of the family were asleep.
In one incident, he covered the boy's mouth with his hand to keep him from shouting. When the boy wanted to sit up, the accused pulled him back down.
On another occasion, he sexually assaulted the boy while they were showering together.
These incidents came to light only after the younger boy was molested by the accused and asked his older brother if anything had happened to him.
The matter was reported to their case worker when she visited them, and a police report was made.
The boys are currently under the care of MSF. The older boy has since undergone eight psychotherapy counselling sessions as a result of the trauma he suffered from the assaults.