SINGAPORE: In 2016, a teenage father was sentenced to 24 months’ probation for impregnating his 14-year-old girlfriend and leaving their newborn son on his parents’ doorstep with an anonymous note.
A year later, he was hauled to court again for having sex with the same girl, who conceived again and gave birth to another baby boy.
The father of two, now 21, was sentenced to a stint at the Reformative Training Centre (RTC) on Tuesday (Mar 13).
He had pleaded guilty to one count of sexual penetration of a minor. He cannot be named due to a gag order.
While he was on probation in May 2016, the boy asked his girlfriend for sex while visiting her and their child.
She agreed, and they had sex at a staircase landing on the ninth floor of a block of flats at Ang Mo Kio.
Two months later, the 15-year-old realised she was pregnant again.
As both were on probation for underage sex and for putting their first child in danger by leaving it on the boy’s parents’ doorstep, they decided to keep the second pregnancy secret.
On Dec 6, the girl started to bleed. She told her mother she was about to give birth, and was rushed to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
The baby boy was born premature, at about 24 to 26 weeks’ gestation. He weighed 1.5kg.
The mother had not sought any medical attention while pregnant.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana urged the court to sentence the accused to a stint at the RTC, noting that he had been found unsuitable for probation.
His probation officer told the court the accused tended to be arrogant, and that the birth of the second child “surprised everyone”.
The father had also lied about financially supporting his first child. He had stopped in May 2017, though he continued to tell his probation officer otherwise.
The man’s lawyer, who took on the case pro bono, said a jail term would be “more proportionate” punishment.
A stint at the RTC lasts from 18 months to three years. The usual length of a jail term for the offence of sexual penetration of a minor can be shorter.
The lawyer said the accused and the mother of his children had been in a loving relationship for three to four years before the birth of their first child.
The couple have since split up, and have not been in contact for a year.
The man is engaged to someone else, and is due to enlist soon. “He wants to move forward”, his lawyer said, adding there is no chance he will reoffend.
In sentencing the accused, District Judge Mathew Joseph said this case was the first of its kind that he has seen.
Judge Joseph was the one who sentenced the man to probation two years ago.
“This has been a very sad and troubling case”, he told the accused on Tuesday.
“I placed you on probation two years ago … I told you I’d give you a chance. You have disappointed me and … your family.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to take the convenient and shorter option and send you off to the harsh environment of a prison. You may disagree with me, but I hope … this time round, you will listen to me.
“You shouldn’t look at the short-term gain of a short prison sentence, but you should look at the long-term benefits of what you need at this stage of your life. Some discipline, some character-building … there are (RTC) programmes that will address this”, Judge Joseph said.
The man remained silent in the dock.
“I would be remiss in my duty if I were to sentence you otherwise”, the judge said.
He also sentenced the man to 13 months’ jail for breaching the 2016 probation order.
The accused will serve the 13-month sentence concurrently with his RTC stint, meaning he will not actually spend any time in prison.