A 36-year-old father of six was given a job by his neighbour but ended up having sex with his employer's underage stepdaughter in the delivery van that was assigned to him for work.
The High Court heard yesterday that the girl, who was 11 at the time, had sent the accused a text message, saying that she liked him but knew he was married.
When he responded that men could have four wives, she asked if her age was a concern for him. "Age (is) just a number," he replied.
He was yesterday sentenced to 10 years' jail and six strokes of the cane after he pleaded guilty to statutory rape. Three other charges - for committing an indecent act with a child, sexual assault by penetration, and possessing obscene films - were taken into consideration.
The parties are not named in order to protect the identity of the victim, who is now 13.
The court heard that the victim and her family moved into the same neighbourhood as the accused in July 2017. The two families soon became close and had regular gatherings at their homes.
Early last year, the girl's stepfather hired the man to work in his transport company as an operations manager. The girl began chatting with the accused on WhatsApp, unbeknownst to their families, and expressed her feelings for him on March 16 last year.
In their WhatsApp messages, he called her "darling" and they sent each other pornographic videos.
On the afternoon of May 10 that year, the girl agreed to go to his flat at his suggestion.
Nobody was at home as he touched her sexually on his bed.
Five days later, he picked her up in the van and asked her to sit on a sofa at the back of the vehicle. He parked on Deck 6A of a nearby multi-storey carpark and had unprotected sex with her on the sofa.
The offences came to light on June 11 that year after the girl's parents became suspicious that she was communicating with the accused, and questioned her.
The stepfather called the police after confronting the accused, who admitted what he had done.
Defence counsel Mohamed Fazal Abdul Hamid said that it was not a case of "one-way traffic" and that the accused had not expressly told the girl to keep the affair a secret.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Kavita Uthrapathy countered that the girl, being a child, was not in a position to appreciate or understand the implications of the sexual relationship.