SINGAPORE: A 47-year-old man was sentenced to four years' jail and nine strokes of the cane on Thursday (Sep 12) for molesting a girl who lived next door.
The Malaysian national and Singapore permanent resident had molested the eight-year-old girl on two occasions in 2017 and showed her child pornographic material.
All parties cannot be named due to gag orders issued by the court.
The first time in September 2017, the married man went to his neighbour's house to help him fix the water heater, but later returned when the neighbour left for work and molested the victim.
On the second occasion in December that year, he lied to his wife that he was going to work at Marina Bay Sands and went there with her. While she shopped, he returned home and went to his neighbour's, where he molested the girl and engaged in sex acts with her.
Justice Pang Khang Chau first addressed "the very young age" of the victim.
"Even though the defence counsel says that an eight-year-old is not as defenceless as a toddler, the court should nevertheless take into account that eight years is significantly younger than 14," he said.
He did not agree with the defence that the first incident was "opportunistic", as there was planning involved with the offender leaving the victim's house and returning when the father was not around.
ACTS OF LUST LEAVE INDELIBLE MARK: PROSECUTION
The prosecution had asked for five years' jail, saying the man had committed very serious offences against a young child, abusing the trust of his neighbours and close family friends.
"His acts of lust would leave an indelible mark on the life of a young innocent child, and destroyed the close, almost three-decade friendship shared between two families," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Marshall Lim.
The defence had asked for two years' jail, saying his client had pleaded guilty before the original trial was set to commence, saving the victim the need to relive the events under cross-examination.
Defence lawyer Peter Keith Fernando said his client had erectile dysfunction since he was in a motorbike accident in 1998, the same year he met his wife of 11 years.
He said in his mitigation plea that there was no evidence to show any physical or psychological harm caused to the victim.
"Our client stands before your honour today as an utterly remorseful and contrite man," said Mr Fernando. "He is a family man who has decided to face the punishment for the wrong he has done, and to start his life afresh with his wife upon his release from prison."
The judge granted the man a two-week deferment of his sentence so he could resign from his job and be with his family.
He is out on S$100,000 bail posted by his wife.