Apex court dismisses appeal by rapist who said 12-year-old victim's parents consented to marriage
The convicted rapist claimed that he did not know the victim was 12 years old at the time of the rape and that he had received her parents’ consent to marry her.
Three judges in the Court of Appeal on Monday (May 18) dismissed an appeal lodged by a convicted child rapist, who was sentenced last year to 10 years’ jail and six strokes of the cane.
The man’s claim that he did not know his victim was 12 years old was a “belated assertion” and “unbelievable”, the judges ruled.
The 40-year-old man, who was a part-time musician with two children of his own, cannot be named to protect the girl’s identity as he is the brother of her mother’s long-time boyfriend.
The girl thought of him as an uncle, but he got her drunk in his office and raped her there. His brother eventually caught them after the man sexually abused her on two consecutive days in 2015.
He had pleaded guilty in the High Court to one count of statutory rape. Two other charges of aggravated sexual assault by penetration and statutory rape were taken into consideration for sentencing.
On Monday, he argued that his sentence should run concurrently with a seven-and-a-half year jail term imposed earlier for drugs-related offences, including consumption of a specified drug and failing to report for urine tests.
The High Court had ordered him to begin serving his rape jail term after completing the drugs-related sentence.
The man, who was not represented by a lawyer, asked for leniency and a lighter sentence, saying that he is attending school in prison and has learned his lesson.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) James Chew opposed this submission, arguing that the drugs and sexual offences were "distinct and unrelated”.
The prosecutor also revealed some material that the man had put forward in letters to the court.
For one thing, he claimed that he was in a “serious intimate relationship” with the victim, who had the consent of both her parents to get married to him.
DPP Chew noted that he had not raised these points in the High Court, and that this was inconsistent with his claim that he did not know the girl was aged 12 at the time.
“This is really a belated attempt to downplay his culpability and come up with these assertions to try to lower his sentence,” DPP Chew added.
Delivering the apex court’s decision, Judge of Appeal Judith Prakash — who heard the appeal with Judge of Appeal Steven Chong and Justice Woo Bih Li — rejected the man’s claims.
Whether the victim consented to the sexual acts or not is not a mitigating factor save for exceptional circumstances, such as if they are of a similar age, the judge said.
As to a claim that he suffers from hepatitis C, Judge Prakash noted that there was no evidence that he would “suffer disproportionately” in prison because of it.
“Whether he is unfit for caning is a matter for the prison authorities to consider, not this court,” she added.
The man asked if he could file a further appeal or criminal motion but Judge Prakash told him that this was the end of the road for him in terms of the appeal process.
ABOUT THE CASE
The man had known the girl, who is now 17, since she was about seven years old.
The girl addressed him as “baba”, meaning “uncle”, and the two became closer in mid-2015 when she was 12. They would often chat over the phone without her mother or the mother’s boyfriend knowing.
On Sept 21, 2015, her mother made a missing person’s report after the girl, then aged 12, ran away from home.
When they found her, her mother informed the police, who asked them to return the next day for an interview.
The girl told the man privately that she did not want to go home with her mother. He then told the older woman that he was hungry and would grab supper at McDonald’s.
When her daughter said she was also hungry, the mother told her to go along to McDonald’s and wait for her there.
Early the next morning, the girl’s mother could not find them and tried to reach the man on his mobile phone, to no avail.
Police officers found the girl and the man in the vicinity of Bukit Gombak in the afternoon. When the officers called the girl’s mother, she told them to arrest the man, but he requested to speak to the mother and told her not to worry.
The mother replied that she trusted him as he was her future brother-in-law, and asked the officers to let them go. She returned home with her boyfriend, but they were unable to contact the man again later that evening.
The man had seized the chance to take the girl to his office, whose location was removed from court documents.
They drank some beer before lying down on a mattress and undressing. She performed oral sex on him and he proceeded to rape her.
The following morning, he bought some beer, which they drank before having sex in the office.
The girl’s mother made a police report against the man that morning, while her boyfriend was out looking for them. He found them in the man’s office, where he observed love bites on the girl’s neck and suspected that they had engaged in sexual acts.
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