SINGAPORE: An account manager who molested his 13-year-old niece who was living with him was on Tuesday (Aug 7) sentenced to two years and 10 months' jail, as well as five strokes of the cane.
The 43-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the girl, committed the offences between August and October 2012.
He confessed to the police in 2016, when he was filing a report against his now ex-wife for harassment.
The court heard that the girl and her two siblings were living with their uncle as their father was in prison.
On Aug 9, 2012, the man molested his niece in a taxi on the way home from watching the fireworks on National Day.
That night, he molested her in her bedroom. Two months later, while the girl was sleeping, he entered her bedroom again and used her hand to perform a sexual act on himself.
WIFE DISCOVERS WHAT HAPPENED, VIEWS CCTV FOOTAGE
Later that same year, the man's wife asked the girl why she had been coming home late after school and scolded her.
She then revealed that she had been touched when she was sleeping at night, and began crying.
When the girl's grandmother asked the man if he had touched his niece inappropriately, he denied it, court documents said.
He admitted to the offence only after his wife checked footage from a closed-circuit television camera inside the bedroom where the victim slept with her siblings. The man begged his wife not to report the matter to the police.
The incident went unreported, and the man's wife arranged for the victim and her sister to sleep in the same room as their grandmother.
After what happened, the man's relationship with his wife deteriorated.
On Apr 1, 2016, his wife went to his office in Raffles Place to confront him over an alleged affair, prompting him to lodge a police report against her for harassment. The pair were in the midst of divorce proceedings at the time.
During the interview with the investigation officer, the man confessed that he had molested his niece on multiple occasions, and that his wife had CCTV images of these actions.
A doctor later found that the man's niece had insomnia due to fear that her uncle "might come at night and touch her again".
ACCUSED SUFFERED MARITAL AND FINANCIAL STRESS: DEFENCE
On Tuesday, the man's lawyer S S Dhillon said that the victim started living with her uncle since 2011, before moving in permanently a year later. The girl's father had ill-treated her and her siblings, he added.
"The accused had to bear the burden of supporting them financially," said Mr Dhillon. "He was suffering from marital and financial stress and depression when he committed these foolish acts and felt disgusted with himself after that."
The lawyer added that the man's ex-wife had written a letter to the judge, saying that he was a good man and that she had forgiven him.
Mr Dhillon asked District Judge Jasvender Kaur to take the man's voluntary confession as a mitigating factor.
However, Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lai pointed out that the man knew his wife had CCTV footage of the acts.
"He would be well aware that if he informed the police about his wife (and her alleged harassment of him), she would tell them about it," said the prosecutor.
Mr Dhillon responded: "Nobody knows what the wife would have done. She could have kept silent. She kept silent for four years!"
The man was convicted of three charges of using criminal force on a minor under 14 years old intending to outrage her modesty.
In passing the sentence, the judge said that she took into account the young age of the victim and the man's betrayal of her trust.
He could have been jailed for up to five years, fined, caned, or given any combination of these punishments.