SINGAPORE: A gardener at a condominium followed a maid who had gone to dispose of a potted plant before sexually assaulting her.
For his actions, 26-year-old Bangladeshi Islam Shariful was sentenced on Tuesday (Feb 4) to eight years' jail and four strokes of the cane.
The court heard that Islam worked as a gardener at a condominium in eastern Singapore. The exact location cannot be revealed, in order to protect the victim's identity.
On the morning of Oct 30, 2018, the 53-year-old Filipino domestic worker left her employer's condo apartment and went to the garden to dispose of a potted plant.
She saw Islam in the garden and said "hi" to him out of courtesy, as she recognised him as the condominium gardener, said the prosecutor.
She then went up the stairs to the second floor of the garden, where Islam followed her.
After discarding the plant, the woman started walking back down the stairs to go home, but Islam hugged her from behind and groped her breasts.
The victim struggled and fell to the floor in a sitting position, the court heard, but Islam sat behind her, grabbed her shoulder and locked his legs over the woman's, restraining her.
The woman struggled and shouted but could not break free.
Islam then molested the woman and sexually assaulted her.
When the woman screamed loudly, he released her suddenly and stood up, before apologising to her.
He also told her not to report what had happened to the police or condo management.
The victim said she did not care and went home, where she told her employer about the incident. Her employer called the police and Islam was arrested.
He pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault by penetration, with another charge of aggravated molest taken into consideration.
The prosecutor asked for at least eight years' jail and four strokes of the cane, pointing out that Islam had restrained the victim, placing her in "significant fear" and rendering her "helpless".
Islam, who was unrepresented, raised the financial circumstances of his family in his mitigation plea, and stated his desire to return to Bangladesh as soon as possible.
District Judge Marvin Bay said this was "a deeply egregious violation of a hapless domestic worker".
"You had followed her, forced yourself on her, restrained her and then sexually intruded into her private parts," he said. "Such brazen attacks cannot be condoned, and a deterrent sentence is called for."
For sexual assault by penetration, he could have been jailed for up to 20 years and fined or caned.