SINGAPORE - A cleaning supervisor, who started raping his stepdaughter when she was eight years old and continued to sexually exploit her for the next five years, was sentenced to 28 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane on Tuesday (Feb 13).
The horrific offences, described by a prosecutor as "utterly sickening", came to light in March 2015 after the girl, then 12, fled when the man left their one-bedroom flat to throw away a used condom.
Quizzed by police, the man initially denied the allegations, digging up her Facebook posts in a bid to show that she was "not a good girl". He later admitted having sex with the girl but blamed her for "seducing" him by exposing herself while she was asleep.
The 39-year-old man cannot be named to protect the identity of the girl, who is now 15 and living with her maternal grandmother.
Her mother was in court on Tuesday and spoke to her husband briefly after he was sentenced. She has three other daughters - two with the accused, and one from another relationship.
In 2011, the accused married the victim's mother and moved in to live with the woman, the victim and the victim's half-sister.
When she was eight years old, the victim woke up from her sleep one day when she felt someone touching her and was shocked when she saw it was her stepfather. He threatened to divorce her mother if she told anyone about what he had done.
The sexual exploitation soon escalated, with the man committing progressively invasive sex acts.
Once, he showed up at the mosque where the girl was attending religious classes and offered to walk her home, on the pretext of counselling her about a spat with her mother. Once they reached home, he locked the gate, slapped her and ordered her to go to the bedroom where he raped her.
He usually had sex with the girl when they were alone at home, or when the rest of the family were sleeping. At times, when she shouted during the rapes in the hope that someone would hear her, he would repeat his threat to divorce her mother.
Sometimes, he would tell the victim "Daddy want" after pulling her into the bedroom, and she would understand what he wanted.
Although the girl knew that her stepfather's actions were wrong, she did not know how to make him stop, the court heard. She felt confused and helpless, and did not want her mother to have another failed relationship because of her.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Yiwen sought at least 32 years' jail, arguing that the man had "wickedly violated" the trust that the victim had in him.
The girl "looked to the accused for fatherly love, affection and security" but he "treated her as a sex worker who was conveniently placed in his home to satiate his odious sexual desires", said DPP Ng.
He noted that the man "ruthlessly blackmailed" the girl into complying with his perverse demands by threatening to divorce her mother, playing on her fear that the family would suffer financially if he left them.
The DPP also argued that the accused showed no remorse, pointing to his bid to sully the girl's character and his audacity in blaming her for seducing him.
Justice Woo Bih Li agreed that the man's conduct did not reflect genuine remorse, but said he would give him "a bit of discount" for pleading guilty, thereby avoiding the trauma the girl would go through if she had to testify in a trial.