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Man jailed 12 months for underage sex following chat on mobile app

Ngo Choon Seng found the victim via social networking app Blendr, although the victim was three years below the legal limit for the app. 

SINGAPORE: A 28-year-old sales operator was on Friday (Jun 12) jailed 12 months for having sex with a 15-year-old girl after getting in touch with her via a social networking application. 

Ngo Choon Seng was the final accused person convicted before the State Courts, after four other men were jailed for engaging in sexual acts with the same girl on separate occasions.

Ngo had pleaded guilty to one count of underage sex with the girl in his car on Oct 13, 2012. Another charge was taken into consideration. 

The accused had befriended the victim via an app called Blendr in mid-2012. The victim's profile revealed that she was female. She had also indicated that she was 18 years old as this was the minimum age allowed for registration.

Ngo and the girl then carried over the conversation to mobile messaging app WhatsApp. During the conversation, the girl told Ngo that she was 15 years old and was still studying.

Soon after, Ngo sent her a nude photograph of himself before talking about sex. They subsequently agreed to meet for sex on the condition that the accused wore a condom.

On Oct 13, 2012, the accused picked up the girl from her home in his car and drove to the top deck of a multi-storey carpark near her house. After parking, the duo moved to the backseat and started having protected sexual intercourse. After the incident, the duo no longer communicated with each other.

A medical report by the Institute of Mental Health found that a causal link was present between Ngo's state of mind at the time of the offence, and the offence itself.

Ngo was found to have suffered from a major depressive episode at the time of the incident, due to factors such as his girlfriend breaking up with him and his foster sister dying due to a bone marrow transplant infection that worsened her cancer diagnosis.

As a result, Ngo took to drinking alcohol as a form of relief and had trouble performing in his job. That was when he took to internet chatting, which led to the encounter with the victim.

Psychiatrist Dr Kenneth Goh noted in his report that Ngo's disregard of self-care had led the accused to be impaired in assessing risks, including possibly downplaying the danger of the offence against the immediacy of sexual gratification.

It was further noted that Ngo was the one who cut off all contact, refusing to respond to calls or messages by the girl after the offence was committed.

However, Dr Goh agreed that Ngo's mental condition was not enough to render him to be of unsound mind during the time of the offence. The prosecution - led by Deputy Public Prosecutor Sharmila Sripathy-Shahnaz - agreed to this, saying that Ngo was culpable to his offence as he made a conscious choice to meet the victim.

The incident came to light after a friend informed the victim's father that sexually-explicit photographs of the minor were circulating on the internet.

Ngo appeared calm as the sentence was being read out to him in court. For the offence, he could have been sentenced to a maximum of 10 years' jail, a fine or both.