SINGAPORE, July 10 — After celebrating his wife’s birthday at a restaurant, a man, who was 65 years old at the time, went with his 11-year-old granddaughter to buy durians while the rest of the family headed to his home.
But instead of going home immediately after that, the man decided to take his granddaughter to a secluded staircase, where he began to violate her by kissing her without her consent and forcing her to engage in a sexual act.
The incident caused “serious emotional and psychological harm” to the girl, who kept replaying what her grandfather did to her in her head and had nightmares of him raping her. She would also hurt herself and became afraid of older men of her grandfather’s age.
It was only around six months after the incident that the girl broke her silence and told her school counsellors what had happened.
Today, the man, who is now 68, was sentenced to 12 years’ jail after pleading guilty to one charge of rape.
Eight other charges for outrage of modesty on the same victim from 2019 to 2021 were taken into consideration for sentencing.
The man cannot be named due to a gag order imposed by the court to protect the victim’s identity.
In the prosecution’s submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutors Michelle Tay and Lee Da Zhuan noted several aggravating factors in the case, including the fact that the man occupied a position of trust and authority over his granddaughter.
“It was only because of his authority over the victim, and the trust reposed in him as her grandfather, that he had the opportunity to bring the victim to the staircase landing alone, an opportunity which he deliberately and callously chose to exploit for his sexual gratification,” said the DPPs.
The court heard that the victim had been visiting her grandfather and step-grandmother at their flat regularly on Sundays with her mother, stepfather and four stepsiblings.
The man is her maternal grandfather, according to court documents.
The court heard that the victim went to a restaurant on July 10, 2020 with eight other family members, including the man, to celebrate her step-grandmother’s birthday.
After the dinner, the family split into two private hire cars to go to the man’s flat, with the girl sharing the same car as her grandfather, step-grandmother and stepbrother.
Upon arrival at the flat, her step-grandmother asked the girl to accompany the man to buy durians at a stall nearby.
She went alone with her grandfather as her stepbrother had to push her wheelchair-bound step-grandmother up to the flat.
After they bought the durians, the pair walked past an area in Geylang Bahru. He then took her to a secluded corner at a staircase landing, where he made the girl lean against a wall before kissing her on the lips.
Upon realising that her grandfather was trying to put his tongue into her mouth, the girl kept her mouth closed and turned away.
Instead of stopping, he then pulled down her pants and panties, and then continued to touch her inappropriately.
She tried to walk away, but the man caught hold of her wrist and pulled her towards him. He then made her perform a sexual act.
“Her mind went blank as she was very shocked by the sexual offence committed on her,” said DPP Lee.
He added that she did not fully understand the sexual nature of the man’s actions and only learnt about “good touch” and “bad touch” during her sex education class later on when she was 12.
The matter only came to light around six months later on Jan 26, 2021, when she told a counsellor what had happened. The court heard that the girl had been feeling angry about the sexual offences but was not able to confide in a trusted adult.
The school counsellor then contacted the Child Protection Service of the Ministry of Social and Family Development, and made a police report the next day.
Age gap of 54 years
In court today, DPP Michelle Tay sought a sentence of 12 years and 12 strokes of the cane. However, since the man is above 50 years old, she sought an additional sentence of six months in lieu of caning.
The law states that a convict who cannot be caned can be given an extra jail sentence of up to one year instead.
DPP Tay said: “There was an age gap of 54 years and he was her grandfather.”
She added that the victim had suffered emotional and physical harm.
The court heard that the girl had engaged in self-harm and had suicidal thoughts in order to cope with the distress from the incident.
In a letter detailing how the incident impacted her, the girl said: “I had a lot of nightmares about what he did to me and I would cry at night and sometimes in the day.”
The girl also wrote that she cannot be around older men his age as she is afraid of what they would do to her.
In his mitigation plea, the man’s defence counsel, Mr Mohamad Hasbu Haneef Abdul Malik from Trident Law Corporation, sought a lower sentence of at most 10 years’ jail instead, noting that there was no pregnancy and no transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.
However, Justice Hoo Sheau Peng noted that the victim did suffer harm after the incident, including suicidal thoughts.
She sentenced the man to 11-and-a-half years’ jail, with an additional six months in lieu of caning.
Those convicted of sexual penetration of a minor can be sentenced to between eight and 20 years’ jail, as well as at least 12 strokes of the cane. — TODAY