SINGAPORE - A Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) regular based at Safti Military Institute molested a Primary 3 pupil after hanging around an area in Tampines where there were schools nearby to prey on young girls.
Mohamed Ardlee Iriandee Mohamed Sanip, 40, was found guilty of one count of molestation on Thursday (Feb 27) after a trial.
Ardlee, whose rank and status in the SAF were not disclosed in court documents, had in January 2018 grabbed an eight-year-old girl by her hand and molested her at the staircase area of a Tampines block of flats.
In her submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana said that Ardlee had developed an interest in young girls a month before the incident and was "predisposed to thoughts of molesting them, and had thought of doing so by waiting near primary schools for opportunities".
The victim, who cannot be named to protect her identity, and her classmate were walking back from school at around 3pm on Jan 22, 2018, when they saw Ardlee at a block of flats where the other girl's grandparents lived.
The victim and Ardlee were complete strangers, said the DPP.
The victim accompanied her friend to the flat and was returning to her own home when Ardlee grabbed her hand near a lift lobby.
According to the victim, he said "hi" before touching her chest for a few seconds.
DPP Sruthi told District Judge John Ng: "Despite (the victim) having told the accused to stop touching her chest, the accused progressed further, by pulling the victim by her left hand to the staircase.
"The victim responded by holding onto the railing with her right hand as she was fearful that she might fall down the stairs."
Ardlee then molested her. He only released her after the girl told him several times to stop.
The child returned to the flat belonging to her friend's grandparents and told her classmate and the girl's aunt about her ordeal.
The police were alerted later that day and officers arrested Ardlee on May 22, 2018.
DPP Sruthi said: "The defence's contention appears to be that while all of the surrounding circumstances reported by the victim are true and accurate, she was wrong about the deliberate contact the accused made with her chest and vagina area."
Ardlee claimed that he had made "accidental contact" with the girl's private parts, the court heard.
He was offered bail of $30,000 on Thursday and will be sentenced on March 23.
Offenders convicted of molesting a child below 14 years old can be jailed for up to 10 years and caned.