Father of 6 who had sex with 11-year-old neighbour told her 'age is just a number'

Supreme Court. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

SINGAPORE — He was a 37-year-old father of six young children who had sex with his 11-year-old neighbour and told her that “age is just a number”.

On Wednesday (17 July), the man was sentenced to 10 years’ jail and given six strokes of the cane after he admitted to one count of statutory rape in the High Court. He committed the offence after the girl expressed her affection for him.

One count each of committing an indecent act with a child, sexually penetrating a minor with his penis and possessing obscene films were taken into consideration for the man’s sentencing.

The girl, now 13, cannot be named to protect her identity.

The court heard that on 29 July 2017, the girl moved into the same block where the man lived, and she became acquainted with him through a neighbour.

The man’s family and the girl’s family grew close and they had family gatherings at their homes regularly.

In early 2018, the girl’s stepfather hired the man to work in his transport company as an operations manager. The man was assigned a delivery van, which he later used in his offences against the girl.

The girl began messaging the man on WhatsApp in March last year. Her family was unaware of the correspondence.

On 16 March, the girl told the man that she liked him but knew that he was married. In response, he told her that he can have up to four wives. When the girl asked if her age was a concern to him, the man said to her that “age was just a number”, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Lim Ying Min.

The man began calling the girl “darling” in his messages and the pair also exchanged pornographic videos.

On 10 May, when the girl asked the man about his whereabouts, the man asked her to visit his flat and she agreed. The man was alone in his flat at the time.

After the girl arrived, the man directed the girl to go into his bedroom before engaging in sexual activity with her on the bed for half an hour. After the incident, he told her that he had to pick up his wife and children, and the victim left.

Five days later, the man asked the girl to meet him at the void deck of their block at night. He picked her up with his delivery van and drove to a multi-storey carpark nearby.

Both sat on a sofa at the back of the van and began kissing. They ended up having unprotected sex.

After the act, the man dropped the victim off at their block. The girl, who was a virgin, realised her underwear was stained with blood.

The man’s acts were exposed when the girl’s parents became suspicious that the duo were communicating.

The girl confessed to her parents on 11 June last year. When her parents confronted the man at his flat, the latter admitted to what he had done. The police were then alerted and the man was arrested on the same day.

The man confessed to the police that he was not in a relationship with the victim but had known that it was an offence to engage in sex with an underage person.

“(The man) also told the police that he had engaged in sexual intercourse with the victim ‘for fun’ and wanted to ‘entertain and let her experience the sexual acts’.” said DPP Lim.

The girl was medically examined and found to have a hymenal tear. She tested negative for pregnancy.

Seeking at least 10 years’ jail and six strokes of the cane, the prosecution said that the man had exploited the naivety of the girl and treated her as a plaything for his own sexual gratification.

“At that tender age, the victim was not in a position to appreciate or understand the implications of a sexual relationship,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Kavita Uthrapathy.

The man had also sexually groomed the girl by addressing her as ‘darling’ and exchanging explicit videos with her.

His lawyer, Mohamed Fazal Abdul Hamid, agreed with the prosecution’s proposed sentence but he disagreed with the prosecution on the factors specific to the offences.

Fazal pointed out that the victim had first approached the man. While the man had sent sexually explicit videos to the girl, the latter did the same, said Fazal. This contradicted the prosecution’s statement that “the victim did not understand the implications of a sexual relationship”.

The man was the sole breadwinner supporting three children from his current wife and three children from his ex-wife with his $3,000 monthly salary, said the lawyer.

For statutory rape, the man could have been jailed up to 20 years and fined or caned.

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