Prosecutors are seeking 15 to 18 years' jail and at least 15 strokes of the cane for a "recalcitrant" teenager who was 14 years old when he raped a 16-year-old at a lift lobby just three doors away from her flat.
The teen, now 16, had sexually assaulted the victim - a total stranger - in 2014 while he was on court bail for a spate of offences, including stealing from an 80-year-old man.
Deputy Public Prosecutor David Khoo told the High Court yesterday that while rehabilitation generally "takes centre stage" in sentencing young offenders, it should "fade into the background" in this case, where the teen had committed "depraved" sexual acts against the victim.
The teen's offences, which escalated in severity over five months, show that he is "a threat to the community", said the DPP.
However, the teen's assigned lawyer Nadia Moynihan pressed for reformative training, a strict regime for offenders aged below 21 that can last between 18 months and three years, arguing that he is amenable to rehabilitation.
She contended that there was no premeditation as the teen had acted on impulse in committing the rape. She said it was inaccurate to describe him as "recalcitrant" as he is not a reoffender having been punished for previous crimes.
She also cited cases of sex offenders of similar age who were sentenced to probation or reformative training.
After hearing the arguments, Justice Woo Bih Li called for a report to determine if the teen is suitable for reformative training. The case was adjourned to March 6.
Neither the accused nor the victim can be named for legal reasons.
In July 2014, the teen was given bail for offences including burglary and snatch theft committed against an 80-year-old man. In September, while out on bail, he misappropriated a skateboard. In October, he molested a 21-year-old woman.
On Nov 21, 2014, he was tasked by his mother to distribute fliers to flats in Bukit Panjang. After he was done, he spotted the victim at a traffic light junction and decided to follow her as he was aroused.
Arriving at her block 15 minutes later, he hurried into the lift with her and pressed the button for the highest floor so that she would not suspect he was trailing her.
But he followed her out when the lift arrived at her stop, saying "baby, I love you" while she kept walking. He pushed her against the parapet and hugged and kissed her, ignoring her request to go away. He then sexually violated her.
After the sex attack, he said "bye bye", and left. The victim wept when she got home and told her family what had happened. They later made a police report.
Yesterday, the teen pleaded guilty to one charge of rape and two charges of sexual assault by penetration. The other charges will be taken into consideration when he is sentenced.