SINGAPORE: A married man who sent sexual messages to a person believed to be a minor was sentenced to four months' jail on Friday (Sep 21).
The case, believed to be the first one where a victim could not be identified, originally went to trial before the accused pleaded guilty.
Muhammad Syazili Muhammad Noor Aal Toha, a 53-year-old technician, was nabbed after a police tip-off.
The unidentified informant told the police in February last year that a man was having sexual conversations on social applications like Tagged with a victim believed to be a 15-year-old girl.
They exchanged photos including images of their genitalia, and the messages and photos were forwarded to the police.
Syazili was identified and arrested. Investigations found that he downloaded the app Tagged in late 2016 to chat with young girls.
In December that year, he began chatting with the victim, who looked "very young based on the profile picture shown", Deputy Public Prosecutor Michael Quilindo said.
The girl told Syazili that she was 15 years old and said she was having her school holidays.
ACCUSED BEGAN DESCRIBING SEX ACTS TO THE GIRL
Syazili's profile picture on the app showed a sex toy, and he began telling her how it was to be used.
The conversation progressed to discussions of sexual acts, with Syazili asking the girl to call him "daddy".
He told her that "Daddy (is) teaching sex education to baby" and instructed her to perform sex acts on herself and imagine he was doing them on her.
Their conversations were interrupted when the victim told Syazili that her older brother had seen her performing sexual acts. Her brother then engaged in other sexual acts with her.
Syazili warned her that her future husband "would be angry with her as she was no longer a virgin" and that she would get pregnant as her brother had not used protection.
He told her not to have sex with her brother again, and told her "it was a very serious offence" as she was underage.
He was aware of the penalties of having sex with a minor, as he told the girl that her brother would be jailed, caned, and that his face would be in the news.
Syazili then tried to meet the girl in person, saying he would pass her condoms and a sex toy. After being told that the girl would be turning 16 the next week, Syazili told her he would perform sexual acts on her and teach her how to reciprocate.
He sent her a photo of his genitalia to her and asked her to return the favour. The girl acquiesced and the conversation ended, but they did not meet in person.
ACCUSED ADMITS TO POLICE THAT HE PICKED YOUNG TARGETS
In statements to the police, Syazili admitted that he chose young girls to chat with as "they are easily to be tackle with (sic) when I talked about sex topics with them" and "so that I can have fantasy thoughts about sex with them".
The police have not been able to identify the unknown victim. However, Syazili believed he was conversing with a 15-year-old girl at all times.
He pleaded guilty to attempting to procure the commission of an indecent act by a young person, and to transmitting an obscene photo.
The prosecutor asked for at least five months' jail, saying that Syazili was deliberately seeking out a minor for sexual gratification.
"This case presents a unique factual scenario. The accused has displayed persistent predatory behaviour, but the putative minor’s identity cannot be ascertained," he said. "How then, should the court sentence an offender whose conduct is the embodiment of the age-old adage by our parents to 'never talk to strangers'?"
He called for a stiff sentence, saying that Syazili was "the very epitome of a predator lurking in the dark recesses of the Internet", who took steps to conceal his misdeeds.
"The accused is a danger to the public by his self-professed attraction to minors," said the prosecutor. "It was only fortuitous that the accused did not carry on any further."
Syazili's defence lawyer Gino Hardial Singh asked for a fine, or not more than three months' jail if the fine were not allowed.
He said there had been no physical contact with the victim, who could not be identified or ascertained to have been a minor at the time.
He added that Syazili had expressed deep remorse, and said it was "not a case where he denied what he had done".
Pointing to the "difficulty of the case", Mr Singh said that "such a situation has not come before the courts" where the victim could not be identified.
The case initially went to trial as it was the first of its kind, Mr Singh said. Because of this, research had to be conducted and issues regarding how to deal with a case where there was no identifiable victim resolved.
District Judge Terence Tay sentenced Syazili to four months' jail, and allowed him to defer the sentence for a month.