SINGAPORE: His stepdaughter was only six years old when he first molested her. In the seven years that followed, he treated her as his own "sexual plaything" and progressed to raping and sodomising her.
During one attack, the girl told him to stop. He responded by saying that her body belonged to him, and that he had the right to touch her anywhere he wanted.
The 41-year-old man was sentenced to 28 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane on Monday (Jan 13), in what the prosecution called an "appalling" case that "strikes at the very conscience of any civilised society".
The man, who cannot be identified in order to protect the victim's identity, pleaded guilty to one charge of aggravated statutory rape and two charges of aggravated sexual assault with another 12 charges taken into consideration.
The prosecution had called for the sentence meted out, saying the warehouse assistant had violated the victim "in every way imaginable".
MAN HAD FOUR OTHER CHILDREN WITH VICTIM'S MOTHER
The court heard that the man was married to his stepdaughter's mother when he began sexually assaulting the girl in 2012.
They lived together in a one-room HDB flat with their four children and the victim.
On one occasion, he woke the victim up at 5am while she was asleep on a mattress in the living room and molested her.
The girl kept quiet as her stepfather told her not to tell anyone, and she was not aware that the touches were wrong, said Deputy Public Prosecutors Chee Ee Ling and Ng Yiwen.
After this, the man's attacks intensified and he began forcing her to fellate him, raping her and sodomising her.
STEPFATHER SLAPPED, SCOLDED HER INTO SUBMISSION
The girl did not consent to these acts and disliked them as they were painful and uncomfortable, the court heard, but she complied with his demands as she was fearful of antagonising the man, who would slap or scold her into submission.
The man first sodomised the girl between January and July 2013, when she was seven years old.
She was asleep when he attacked her, and she felt a tearing pain and began to cry, said the prosecutors.
The accused covered her mouth and slapped her, before placing his finger to his lips and telling her to be quiet.
The man continued sodomising her until she turned 12.
He forced the girl to fellate him for the first time in 2014, calling her to the bedroom and groping her.
When she told him to stop, he retorted that "her body was his and he can touch her anywhere he wants", the court heard.
After this, he promised the girl that he would stop carrying out such acts and told her to keep it a secret.
He persisted with his attacks and raped the girl for the first time that year when she was eight years old. The girl complied with his instructions as she did not want to anger him.
She thought it would be like the previous occasions of sodomy, but felt "an exceptional pain", said the prosecutors.
"She shouted softly and the accused rebuked her and told her to shut up," they said.
The girl kept quiet and cried while she was raped.
SHE FELT ASHAMED SHE WASN'T A VIRGIN
The girl only realised in Primary 5 that what her stepfather had been doing was wrong. Her classmates, who attended sex education classes, had told her the difference between a good touch and a bad touch.
She felt ashamed that she was no longer a virgin, the court heard.
When she told her stepfather to stop doing those things to her, he continued to persist. She felt helpless and did not tell anyone about the abuse as she was afraid of the man and did not think anyone in her family would believe her, the court heard.
On the morning of Jan 17, 2018, when she was 12, she managed to resist the man's attempts to sodomise her before she left for school.
She then sent a text message to her aunt, saying: "I need your help ... my daddy went crazy today morning he forced me to have 'sex' with him ... he then opened my skirt and touched my butt."
The aunt called the girl, who cried and confided in her as she made her way to school.
A teacher saw the girl crying, and took her to a school counsellor. A police report was made the same day.
GIRL FEELS INSECURE, SUFFERS INSOMNIA AND FLASHBACKS
A psychiatric report found that the girl was very scared of her stepfather, and that she felt "angry, ashamed and embarrassed that she (had) lost her virginity at a young age".
The girl shared in her victim impact statement that the offences caused her to feel very insecure about herself, and that she was constantly worried that people would judge her for what had been done to her, and distance themselves from her.
"She still suffers flashbacks of the incidents of abuse and fears that the accused would take revenge on her," said the report. She now finds it hard to trust men, keeps to herself and suffers from insomnia, the report said.
The accused was assessed and found to have no mental illness. While he has substance use disorder, there was no relation linking it to his offences.
The prosecution called the abuse "unrelenting and absolute", saying that it was "utterly incomprehensible how a stepfather could carry out such dastardly acts on such a young child under his care".
"This is an appalling case where the victim, from a very young age, was subjected to years of sexual abuse by her own stepfather, the very person she should have received care, protection and guidance from," said the prosecution.
"He sexually abused her for a protracted period of seven years – robbing her of her innocence, and even exposing her to the risks of sexually transmitted diseases."
The prosecutors said a clear signal should be sent that such "heinous forms of intra-familial sexual abuse will not be tolerated", adding that there is a "worrying trend in allegations of sexual abuse of children by their own family members".
"This case strikes at the very conscience of any civilised society," said the prosecution. "To satiate his perverse carnal instincts, the accused utterly and thoroughly abused the victim’s trust in him as a fatherly figure, practically treating her as his own sexual plaything to be exploited at his whim and fancy."
They added that the sentence imposed must "send out a strong, deterrent message that society will not, and cannot, tolerate such wanton abuse of our young, and that any offender who perpetrates such abuse will be met with the strongest disapprobation from our courts".
ACCUSED KNOWS THE HARM THE VICTIM HAS SUFFERED: DEFENCE
Defence lawyer Henry Lim of G S Lim & Partners, who represented the accused under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, asked for 25 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane.
He said the accused has acknowledged that he has "caused too much trauma and suffering to the victim, her mother and his family".
"He is now tormented daily by memories of the acts he had inflicted on the victim," said Mr Lim. "He knows the harm the victim has suffered is excruciatingly heartbreaking. The accused is terribly shameful."
He said the man has been "abandoned by all his loved ones" and knows that while he deserves to be treated as an outcast by his family members, he is also pleading for their forgiveness.