SINGAPORE - A 29-year-old man who had sex with his girlfriend's underage daughter from when she was 14, and got her pregnant, was on Monday (Nov 29) sentenced to 12 years' jail and six strokes of the cane.
This is believed to be the first case of underage sex involving an exploitative relationship after amendments to the penal code took effect last year that raised the penalties for such cases.
The girl, who regarded the man as "daddy", gave birth to a daughter last year, at age 15.
The man pleaded guilty to three counts of having sex with the minor in October. He cannot be named due to a court order protecting the identity of the girl, who is now 17.
The court heard that prior to this incident, the girl had been sexually abused by another family member when she was between 10 and 12 years old.
The man first met the victim's mother in 2015 and they moved in together in May 2016. The girl stayed with them later that year.
He eventually gained the victim's trust by taking on the role of a father figure that she lacked because her biological father was in jail.
The prosecutors said: "He would shower her with affection by spending relatively large sums of money to celebrate her birthday and taking her out for her favourite activities such as ice skating. He would also care for her when she fell ill and guide her when she needed assistance with her homework."
Over time, the girl and the unemployed man developed ties akin to a father and daughter.
The pair's relationship, however, turned sexual in late 2018.
They had unprotected sex regularly in their home when the girl's mother - the household's sole breadwinner - was out at work.
This continued for more than a year and the girl became pregnant.
On May 14 last year, the girl was admitted to hospital for severe stomach pain, which medical staff determined to be labour contractions. The police were alerted because the girl was below 16 years old.
The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority also alerted the police two weeks later when the girl showed up to register the birth of her daughter and did not indicate any details of the child's father.
The man was arrested in his home in July and a DNA test identified him as the biological father of the girl's child.
A doctor found that the man's repeated sexual abuse had caused the girl to have passive suicidal thoughts.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Jaime Pang sought a jail term of 10 to 12 years' jail and six strokes of the cane for the man, saying that his behaviour was "persistent" and had "occurred over a period of a few years".
For each count of having sex with a minor, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.