School worker jailed for sexually abusing trio

Admin staff member preyed on the brothers over the years at their home and in public

A primary school's administrative employee who sexually abused three brothers studying there was yesterday sentenced to 18 years in jail by the High Court.

The 53-year-old, diagnosed as a paedophile, had started with the eldest boy in 2009, when he was 11.

After the boy left the school, the predator, who had gained the family's trust, moved on to his siblings.

The three boys revealed the abuse in March 2013 after their mother received a text message from the man, asking if he could take her second son out. When she asked the boy about it, he kept quiet. His younger brother then encouraged him to tell her what the man had been doing.

In sentencing the man, Justice Hoo Sheau Peng said he had abused the trust of the boys' parents: "A stiff sentence is called for to reflect the gravity of the offences."

The man cannot be named under a court order to protect the identities of the boys, who are now aged 17, 18 and 19. He has been in custody since he was arrested on March 22, 2013, two days after the boys' parents made a police report. He cannot be caned as he is above 50 years old.

The father of three was the school's operations support assistant. He pleaded guilty in September last year to one count of aggravated sexual penetration, one count of sexual penetration of a minor and three counts of committing an indecent act with a child. Another 31 counts were taken into consideration in sentencing.

Of the 36 charges, seven relate to the eldest brother, 22 to the second and five to the youngest. Two other charges are for possessing obscene and pirated films.

The bespectacled, grey-haired man befriended the eldest boy in 2009, when he was in Primary 5. He took the boy from school to the zoo and shopping centres.

That year, he performed oral sex on the boy at the staircase landing of a Housing Board block. He also showed him how to do a lewd act, but the boy refused to do it.

When the boy went to secondary school, the man turned to his brothers, buying them shoes and clothes, and telling their parents he was following up on their homework. The parents, who worked long hours, thought he was genuinely concerned for their welfare.

The middle boy, seen by the man as being more compliant, suffered for three years, the longest ordeal among the three boys.

In 2012, the man forced the second son, then aged 13, to perform oral sex on him in a community centre's toilet. In 2013, he accompanied him and the youngest boy, then 12, back to their home, where he abused them, one after the other, on the same bed. No one else was home.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Winston Man sought 18 years' jail, arguing that the man had "exhibited an extremely cynical level of premeditation", particularly in singling out the middle son.

In mitigation, the man's pro bono lawyer Choo Zheng Xi said 16 years in jail was sufficient as a deterrent.

He submitted a letter from the man's 16-year-old daughter, who said, among other things, she had to lie to her younger brothers about their father's whereabouts so they would not find out he was in prison.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2017, with the headline 'School worker jailed for sexually abusing trio'. Print Edition | Subscribe