Singaporean man gets 20 years’ jail for twice sexually assaulting daughter with mild intellectual disability

The 52-year-old Singaporean man was sentenced to 20 years’ jail for sexually assaulting his daughter twice, including one year in lieu of caning. ― TODAY file pic
The 52-year-old Singaporean man was sentenced to 20 years’ jail for sexually assaulting his daughter twice, including one year in lieu of caning. ― TODAY file pic

SINGAPORE, Nov 24 — He first sexually assaulted his biological daughter when she was between six and eight years old, and then again when she was 17.

The girl was later diagnosed with mild intellectual disability, with an Institute of Mental Health (IMH) psychologist finding that she lacked awareness of social norms and the conventional consequences of behaviour. 

Yesterday in the High Court, the 52-year-old Singaporean man was sentenced to 20 years' jail. This includes one year in lieu of caning because offenders aged 50 or above cannot be caned by law.

He had pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault by penetration, with another charge of molestation taken into consideration for sentencing.

His daughter, who is now 19, is in special education. She has been staying at a shelter for abused teenage girls since October 2018, when the latest offence was committed.

The court heard that when the girl was in Primary 1 or 2, she was living with her parents and shared a bedroom with them.

One night, she was there alone with her father when he sexually assaulted her. She felt very scared and tried to harm herself as a result of the abuse.

Fearing her parents would scold her, she kept silent about the incident.

Sometime later, her mother moved out of the flat. Court documents did not state why.

The second assault

Almost a decade after the first incident, the girl and her father continued sharing a room and usually slept on different mattresses side by side. Two of her uncles, her aunt and her older brother also lived with them.

On October 26, 2018, the 17-year-old girl was sleeping when her father entered the bedroom. Her uncle was asleep on another mattress.

When her father lay down, she smelled alcohol on him. He then touched her breasts before further assaulting her. When she covered her face with her hands and tried to push him away, he stopped after several minutes and fell asleep next to her.

She cried silently to herself, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Sarah Siaw said.

Later that day, she was attending a performing arts class when her teacher noticed her looking disturbed and frustrated. Upon some prompting, she eventually confided that her father had touched her inappropriately.

The teacher informed the school counsellor who made a police report. Her father was then arrested.

The girl then disclosed the earlier act.

After his arrest, an IMH psychiatrist diagnosed the father with alcohol use disorder and said that it was possible he was drunk at the time of his latest offence. Even then, he had enough clarity of mind to know what he was doing and that it was wrong.

There was also not enough evidence to suggest that he could have paedophilia, the psychiatrist found.

Based on testing, he did not meet the criteria for an intellectual disability.

‘Perverted pleasure’

DPP Chee Ee Ling sought at least 24 years’ jail, describing this as a “highly disturbing case”. As the girl’s mother had left home several years before the later offence, this meant that the victim could no longer count on either parent to love or protect her against such abuse, the prosecutor said.

The father, who did not have a lawyer, said through an interpreter that he knew he had made a mistake and promised not to do it again in the future.

“When I am released, I will change. I will not drink again. I will not smoke again. Your Honour, please give me a chance so that I can be a better person. When I am released, I will become a better husband and a better father,” he told Justice Dedar Singh Gill.

In sentencing, the judge said that the girl was “plainly vulnerable”.

“The accused had, for his perverted pleasure, turned on its head the bond between a father and a daughter. The bond lies in tatters with the accused in prison and the victim in a shelter for teenage girls. There was a serious breach of trust on the part of the accused,” he added.

For sexual assault by penetration, the father could have been jailed up to 20 years and fined or caned. ― TODAY

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