SINGAPORE - A 20-year-old man who used social media to befriend girls as young as 12 and committed a string of sexual offences against more than 10 of them, was on Monday (April 23) sentenced to 16 years' jail and 15 strokes of the cane.
Justice Kannan Ramesh agreed with prosecutors that it was a "reprehensible case that should be met with disapprobation and censure by the court".
The High Court judge said the charges against Goh Kar Aip reveal a pattern of behaviour - "trawling and prowling social media to target and ensnare pubescent girls for sexual exploitation".
Justice Ramesh said Goh's behaviour showed a degree of exploitation that was "quite astounding". One 12-year-old wanted to break up with Goh after their first sexual encounter but he terrified her into meeting him again by threatening to send their text conversations on sex-related topics to her school.
After he was sentenced, Goh tried to defer his prison term for two weeks, saying that he needed to take care of his mother who has been suffering severe headaches.
The request was denied by the judge, who said Goh has had more than ample time to address the issue. The judge noted that when the case was last mentioned on March 27, Goh had asked for, and was given, a two-week deferment for sentencing.
The court was told that between 2014 and 2016, Goh, a Singapore permanent resident, started using social media to look for young girls.
He messaged his targets privately, introducing himself as "Kai". While some ignored him, others responded and chatted with him. After getting to know them, Goh moved on to sexual topics and asked them for photos of their abdomens.
Once he gained their confidence, he would ask for their nude pictures. Sometimes, he would send them pictures of his genitalia in the hope that they would reciprocate.
He would then meet and sexually violate them.
His offences came to light when a teacher discovered that one of her students was in a relationship with him and had taken three of her schoolmates to meet him. Goh committed sexual offences against the girl and two of the three friends. A police report was lodged on March 19, 2016.
On Feb 19, 2018, Goh pleaded guilty to four charges - three of sexual penetration of a minor and one of sexual assault by penetration. Another 34 charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
All 38 charges related to 10 victims aged between 12 and 13.
They included one charge of criminal intimidation for threatening to locate and tie up a 12-year-old girl who refused to send him photographs of herself. She was the only one of the 10 who did not become a sex victim.
On March 27, another seven new charges were brought against him relating to three more victims. These arose following reports of Goh's case in the newspapers.