Teen with autism spectrum and bipolar disorders given probation for offences including molestation

SINGAPORE - A teenager with autism spectrum and bipolar disorders - who committed offences, including molesting a 40-year-old woman - was sentenced to two years' probation on Wednesday (Dec 16).

This is despite a probation officer's assessment that he is likely to break the law again.

The 16-year-old boy, who also has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, had pleaded guilty last month to a molestation charge and two counts of insulting the modesty of teenage girls in separate incidents.

In his report, the probation officer found that the teenager lacked supervision and had a high risk of reoffending.

But Deputy Principal District Judge Seah Chi-Ling decided to grant probation to the teenager, taking into account his age and medical conditions, among other reasons.

On Wednesday, the boy's father told the court that both he and his wife are willing to work part-time to supervise their son.

The boy cannot be named, in accordance to the Children and Young Persons Act.

Addressing the judge from the dock on Wednesday, the teenager said: "I really regret it... I try control myself... I hate myself for it."

As part of his probation, he has to remain indoors from 10pm to 6 am every day. His parents were also bonded for $5,000 to ensure his good behaviour.

He must also undergo psychiatric treatment and comply with his medication requirements.

The court heard that the teenager almost reoffended on Dec 9, but stopped himself. Details about this case were not disclosed in court.

He had targeted his first victim, the 40-year-old woman, between 3.15pm and 3.40pm on Feb 4.

She was walking to a coffee shop at Block 153A Serangoon North Avenue 1 when he approached her and asked for directions to the Nex shopping mall in Serangoon Central.

She then pointed him the way. Instead of walking away, the boy followed her and tried to "make small talk".

He continued to tail the woman even though she ignored him, the court heard.

When the woman stopped walking and confronted him, he molested her.

On March 31, the teenager approached an 18-year-old girl near Serangoon North Community Centre and tapped on her left shoulder, before following her into a nearby cafe where he made lewd remarks.

He targeted his third victim, a 16-year-old student, on July 8 while she was walking home from school.

He approached the girl and asked her what words like "pornography" meant. He also told her that "all females were sexual objects".

The victim later told a schoolmate about the encounter. The schoolmate, in turn, told a male teacher, who made a police report at around 5.30pm that day.

The identities of the three victims cannot be revealed because of a gag order.

For molestation, an offender can be jailed for up to two years and fined or caned.

For each count of insulting a woman's modesty, an offender can be jailed for up to a year and fined.

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