SINGAPORE — A man who sexually abused two brothers who were abandoned by their father as babies was jailed for 18 years and sentenced to 24 strokes of the cane on Tuesday (13 April).
The 32-year-old Singaporean man had sexually penetrated the older boy, who was aged 12 at the time, three times and then molested the younger boy, who was then aged 10 to 11.
In sentencing the man, Justice Mavis Chionh said, "Unfortunately, far from fulfilling his duty to act in loco parentis (Latin for "in place of a parent"), the accused proceeded to sexually abuse the victim."
She also took into consideration the man's criminal history, which had escalated from a "peeping Tom" offence in 2013, to molesting of a woman in 2015, committing obscene acts in public in 2016, up until the current offences.
Accused regrets offences: Defence lawyer
At a previous hearing, the man's lawyer Ranadhir Gupta, said in mitigation that his client was the sole breadwinner for his household and took care of his wife, who suffers from medical issues.
The lawyer added that the man also has asthma but has no money to buy a machine to help him with his condition.
Both the man and his wife had been receiving social assistance at the time of the offences, and lived in a one-room flat in Punggol. The man's wife now wants to divorce him.
"The accused is very upset with himself for the pain he has caused to the victims and his family. He would be in tears when recounting the incidents," Gupta added.
The man had pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual assault by penetration of a person under 14 years of age, with another charge of sexual penetration of a minor against the elder boy, and a charge of molest against the younger boy taken into consideration for his sentencing.
The man also admitted to a charge of voluntarily causing hurt to a bus driver, which was also taken into consideration for his sentencing.
The prosecution had sought at least 19 years’ jail and 24 strokes of the cane, Gupta argued for 17 years and 24 strokes of the cane.
Boys abandoned by father
The boys' biological father had abandoned them when they were babies and returned to Myanmar some 10 years ago.
The boys were left with their mother, who was close friends with the offender's wife. The man and his wife were godparents to the boys and had known them for at least three years prior to the offences.
In August 2019, the boys and their mother were evicted from their home. The mother then contacted their social care worker and the family was lodged at a crisis shelter on 24 October 2019 while awaiting a rental flat.
After hearing this, the man and his wife offered to let the boys stay with them. Care workers considered the man's offer and deemed it appropriate. At the time, the boys' mother had also been placed under a safety plan by a social service agency due to her lack of adequate parenting skills.
The boys and their mother stayed at the couple's flat from 25 October 2019 to end-December 2019. The man and his wife became parental figures to the boys, with the man signing their consent forms.
One night, as the man lay next to the elder boy on a mattress, he sexually assaulted the boy. According to the man's lawyer, the woman had refused to have sex with her husband as she was having a urinary tract infection at the time.
Several days later, the man asked the same boy to shower with him. The boy’s mother let the man shower the victim, as she did not know how to shower him after the boy’s circumcision.
While in the shower, he again sexually assaulted the boy.
The incidents only came to light after the younger boy was molested by the man. The boy later asked his elder brother if anything had happened to him and the elder boy then revealed the man's abuse.
The boys did not tell their mother about the incidents until they moved into their own rental flat. Both boys are currently under the care of the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
The elder boy underwent a psychological assessment and was found to have symptoms of trauma, with high levels of fear and anger triggered by being reminded of the man who abused him.
For sexual penetration of a minor under the age of 14, the man could be jailed between eight and 12 years, and caned no less than 12 strokes, on each count.
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