Man abuses young niece after being given home by his late wife's family

SINGAPORE - A widower who had sought shelter with his late wife's family repaid their kindness by sexually abusing his brother-in-law's young daughter, a court heard.

The man, a 62-year-old operating theatre technician who cannot be named to protect the child's identity, had been living with his relatives since 2003 and was referred to as "ayah" - the Malay word for father - by the girl, who was just 10 years old when he first abused her.

Jailing him for 10 years and nine months on Tuesday (June 19), District Judge Mathew Joseph said: "They offered you a home to stay... for that young victim, that house was transformed into a house of terror... The victim will probably remain scarred for life."

The man pleaded guilty to two counts of molestation and one of attempting to sexually penetrate his niece without her consent.

Five other charges for similar offences involving the same girl were taken into consideration during sentencing. The offences spanned from 2011 to 2016.

He first molested her at the family flat in mid-2011.

The following year he molested her again while watching television, even though the girl's parents, brother and grandmother were at home at the time.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Asoka Markandu said: "The accused stopped when someone called his name and asked him to come out of the room. The victim recalled feeling shocked, uncomfortable and confused by the events. She did not share the incident with anyone."

The court heard that later that year, the man molested the child again in a similar manner before a failed attempt to sodomise her.

The girl said that although he did not sexually abuse her between 2013 and 2015, he molested her twice in 2016 - prompting her to tell her form teacher about her ordeal as she no longer felt safe in her own home.

The girl's father lodged a police report in July 2016 after receiving a call from her school.

DPP Asoka urged the judge to sentence the man to 10 years and nine months' jail, stressing that he had abused the trust the girl's family had placed in him.

The man, who was unrepresented, told the court he regretted his actions.

For each count of molestation, offenders can be jailed for up to five years and fined or caned.

For attempted sexual assault by penetration, offenders can be jailed for up to 10 years with caning. The man cannot be caned as he is over 50 years old.