SINGAPORE, May 23 — The badminton coach of a secondary school team sent several female students sexual messages and later engaged in sexual acts with one of them when she was 15 years old.

The married man, now aged 33, was sentenced to three years’ jail today after he pleaded guilty to two charges for engaging in sexual acts with a person under 16 years of age.

Both the man and the teenager cannot be named under a court gag order to protect the victim’s identity.


The court heard that the man had been hired by the secondary school as a badminton team coach in 2017 but was later dismissed in June 2019 after reports about his behaviour began to emerge.

The school principal and head of department of co-curricular activities and physical education were notified that the coach had sent inappropriate Instagram private messages to students, including girls not in the badminton team.

What happened


Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Santhra Aiyyasamy told the court that the student had gotten to know the coach when she joined the team in secondary one.

Sometime between March and April 2017, the two started following each other on Instagram where they began private messaging and chatting about daily events.

This progressed into the coach sending the teenager home after their school badminton training sessions and occasionally bringing her out for meals. He had also conducted free private badminton coaching sessions.

In 2018, when the student was about 14 years old, the coach started to hold her hands in public and also hugged and kissed her when they were alone in his car.

The coach’s attention made the student feel special, even though he had told her that they could be in only an “unofficial” relationship as he was married, said DPP Santhra.

Sometime after the girl turned 15, the coach texted her a checklist of intimate questions which included whether she had kissed anyone and if she had sexual intercourse before.

The court heard that although she felt awkward receiving this from the coach, she was “not surprised” as she knew that he liked her.

This was when the coach asked if he could have sexual intercourse with her but she refused.

The coach then persisted, adding that he was “sad he was not the first to have sex” with her, and she eventually agreed.

During this time, the coach was aware that he was being investigated by the school for sending inappropriate private messages to students and had terminated his employment as a school coach.

Sexual acts

Sometime between September 10 and 14, 2019, the teenager met the coach at a sports club where they engaged in sexual acts, including sexual intercourse.

Before they parted ways, the teenager asked the coach on why he had removed the condom during sexual intercourse.

The coach responded to her with a laugh and told her that it “did not feel as nice” when wearing one.

The coach and the teenager kept communicating via private messaging after and when she expressed concerns about getting pregnant, he told her “not to worry” and asked if they could meet to have sexual intercourse again.

The teenager refused and the coach suggested meeting for a private badminton coaching session instead. She agreed.

At the session, the coach had kissed her and asked if she could perform a sex act on him, which she agreed.

DPP Santhra said that the girl had agreed to engage in the sexual acts with the coach as she felt indebted to him for his kindness.

The two eventually drifted apart after that and only contacted each other occasionally through text messages.

Following the two sexual encounters, the teenager began to realise that what the coach had done to her was not right and had texted him saying that she felt “dirty” for what had happened between them.

She was hoping to get an apology for him as she wanted closure.

However, the coach refused to apologise and told her that what he did was to “care for her”.

She eventually sought help from her school counsellors in 2022 and lodged a police report.

The coach was arrested on July 28, 2022. He admitted to the police that he had engaged in sexual acts with the teenager, who was 15 then, as well as sending her a nude photo of himself through Instagram private message.

All his text messages with the teenager, however, were discovered to have been deleted.

Sexually groomed the victim

Seeking a jail term of 48 months, DPP Santhra argued that there was a high degree of premeditation and persistence from the coach during the course of his offending.

“He had set the stage since 2017 to wait for the opportunity to engage in sexual acts by chatting with her on a daily basis, exhibiting kind gestures such as sending her home after school training sessions, and giving her a listening ear while she was feeling down,” she said.

“All of these were done while he was still her badminton coach.”

The man abused his position of trust as a coach because even after the school had terminated his employment, he was still communicating with the victim and had provided private coaching services.

Seeking a more lenient sentence, defence counsel Yamuna Balakrishnan from Tembusu Law LLC, said that there was no abuse of trust on her client’s part as he was no longer the badminton coach and had limited authority or influence as coach when he committed the sexual acts.

“He did not pressure or coerce her into participating in sexual acts,” said Yamuna.

However, District Judge Lim Tse Haw disagreed and pointed out that the abuse of trust had begun when he sexually groomed the victim with his kind acts.

“There was a high degree of premeditation in sexual grooming, when she was about 13 years old, which escalated to him being intimate with her when he held her hands in public and hugged and kissed her in the car,” he said.

For each count of engaging in sexual acts with a person under 16 years of age, the coach could have been jailed for up to 10 years, fined, or both. — TODAY