SINGAPORE: A 30-year-old man was on Wednesday (Jul 29) sentenced to 20 years and six months’ jail and the maximum 24 strokes of the cane for a series of sexual offences he committed against four young victims, aged between 11 and 13 years old.
Benjamin Sim Wei Liang faced a total of 23 charges, eight of which the prosecution proceeded with. The remaining 15 charges were taken into consideration by Justice Tay Yong Kwang during sentencing.
Sim, employed as a security supervisor and living with his parents in the Woodleigh area before his arrest, committed the offences between November 2012 and January 2013.
His modus operandi was to befriend his victims on social networking site Facebook, before exchanging phone numbers and meeting with his victims in person.
Only the fourth, and youngest, victim never met Sim in person. She was 11 years old and in Primary 5 when she sent a sexually explicit photograph of herself to Sim on his request. She also sent him another sexually explicit video of herself, but this was understood to be of her own volition.
The other three victims, two of which are twin sisters, were 13 years old and in Secondary 1 at the time of the offences. Sim befriended them on Facebook, and asked them to send him sexually explicit photographs of themselves. He eventually had sexual intercourse and oral sex with two of them.
He was arrested on Feb 19, 2014 after the mother of one of the victims discovered a handphone given by Sim. She brought her daughter to the police station, where they lodged a report.
PROSECUTION: HE NEEDS TO BE "TAKEN OUT OF CIRCULATION"
In court on Wednesday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Zhong Zewei urged the court to impose a hefty sentence, calling Sim “an offender who lacks self-control” and who needed to be “taken out of circulation” to “protect the younger generation who are plugged in to social media constantly”.
It is no coincidence that Sim’s victims were all young girls, DPP Zhong added. It is clear that he “trawled (Facebook) for young girls” and met his victims in person for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts, he said.
DEFENCE: HE HAS "LEARNED A PAINFUL LESSON"
In mitigation, Sim’s lawyer Edmond Pereira said that while his client’s actions were inexcusable, the court should keep in mind his background and circumstances.
Mr Pereira told the court that Sim experienced “cognitive development issues” and “delayed developmental milestones” as a child. His parents even took him to the Child Guidance Clinic at the Institute of Mental Health, where they were told they “should not expect much” from their child.
Recent psychiatric reports on Sim found that he has a low IQ and is “incompetent in relating to adults or people his own age”, instead gravitating towards children or those younger than him, his lawyer said.
Mr Pereira urged the court to consider Sim’s “mental makeup”, and that he “has learned a painful lesson”. His client did not realise he was doing anything wrong as he had obtained consent from his victims before carrying out any sexual acts, he added.
A person accused of sexually penetrating a minor under the age of 14 could be charged with statutory rape.
Sim’s family, who were present in court, were allowed to spend 15 minutes with him after his sentencing.