SINGAPORE - A man, who was often alone with the children at home while his wife was at work, would force his 13-year-old daughter to perform sexual acts over a period of two months.
The girl, who was in Secondary 2 at the time, did not dare to tell her mother as she was worried that doing so would tear her family apart.
The incidents came to light only when the girl confided in some friends in school who reported the matter to a school counsellor on Jan 30 last year.
The man, 39, was on Thursday (Oct 21) sentenced to 11 years in jail and 15 strokes of the cane for committing sexual assault involving penetration and using criminal force on a person with intent to outrage modesty.
Three other similar charges were taken into consideration.
Details about the family cannot be disclosed as the daughter, now 15, is covered under the Children and Young Persons Act and cannot be identified.
The teen's ordeal began in December 2019, after her mother, who was the main breadwinner of the family, took up a new job that required her to work for most of the day and return home at night, according to court documents.
Her father, a part-time food deliveryman, would stay home to look after the teen and her siblings - an older brother and a younger sister.
It was then that he began sexually touching his daughter without her consent on multiple occasions over the course of two months.
In one incident, he molested the teen while lying between her and her sister on a mattress in the living room while they were taking a nap. He stopped only after she threatened to tell her mother about it.
The prosecution said that the girl was too afraid to stop her father. It added: "She also felt fear and disappointment, that someone entrusted to protect her should thus violate her."
The teen was also too afraid to confide in her mother about the offences as she was concerned about the impact on her siblings if her parents decided to get divorced.
"She was also worried about who would take care of the family if the accused were incarcerated," said the prosecution.
The girl ran away from home on three occasions in December 2019 and often stayed out late after school once classes resumed in January last year, the prosecutors added.
A medical report by the Child Guidance Clinic said that the girl felt hurt by the incidents and resorted to cutting herself. She also expressed suicidal thoughts and reported bad dreams of her father pushing her into the sea, it added.
The Institute of Mental Health said in a report that the father was not suffering from a mental illness at the time of the offences and does not have a paedophilic disorder.
Deputy public prosecutors Grace Teo and Hon Yi had sought 11 years' jail and 15 strokes of the cane for the man.
In their submission, they said: "When a girl begins her teenage years, home is where she should expect to be safe, and where she should enjoy the support of her parents while entering this new phase in her life."
In his mitigation plea, defence lawyer Ashvin Hariharan said the man was genuinely remorseful and had cooperated with the authorities, without claiming trial.
He pleaded with the court to sentence the man to not more than 11 years' jail and 15 strokes of the cane.
For the offence of sexual assault involving penetration with a person under 14 years of age, the man could have been jailed for a maximum of 20 years with at least 12 strokes of the cane.