SINGAPORE: A 31-year-old mini-mart employee took notice of a 12-year-old girl while she was at his shop, gave her a SIM card, and got her to send him nude selfies and videos.
Udhayakumar Dhakshinamoorthy, an Indian national, progressed to performing sexual acts on the girl, who was then in Secondary 1, and tried to rape her on two occasions.
His offences came to light after his pregnant adult girlfriend went to the police. He was charged with sexual penetration of a minor and attempted rape, and on Thursday (Jan 10), sentenced to 13 years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane.
Udhayakumar had just started working at the shop at Block 176 Boon Lay Drive in September 2016 when the girl went to the shop with her younger siblings, according to court documents.
The next time she visited the shop on her own, he told her he had to speak to her privately and took her to a staircase nearby. She thought he wanted to speak to her about her younger siblings as they had disturbed him on the previous occasion, the High Court heard.
There, he asked her for her age, and lied that he was in his 20s. He also found out that while she had a mobile phone, she did not have a SIM card.
Three days later, he gave her a SIM card, and gave her his contact number. When she sent him a text, he requested for a nude selfie and a video. The victim complied.
HE CALLED HER "WIFE", SHE CALLED HIM "UNCLE"
After that, whenever the victim visited the mini-mart, Udhayakumar would allow her to take snacks without paying. When there was nobody in the shop, he would hug and kiss her, the High Court heard.
This progressed to him leading the victim to public places nearby to engage in sexual acts with her. He would also give her S$5 to S$10 after each sexual act. His acts continued to become more brazen, and culminated in him trying to rape her twice.
The first time he tried to rape her, he took her to his friend’s home nearby when there was no one around, and told her to undress. He did not manage to rape her as she was in pain and pushed him away.
Udhayakumar had also taken to calling the girl “wife”. She called him “uncle”.
In October, Udhayakumar started dating a woman, who was unaware of his relationship with the girl.
In December, he attempted to rape the 12-year-old girl again, this time at the rooftop of an HDB block, but was unsuccessful. He gave her S$50, and stopped committing the offences. He also stopped letting her take titbits for free from his shop.
His offences only came to light five months later. On May 15, 2017, Udhayakumar and his girlfriend, who was by then pregnant, went to a hotel room. There, she checked his phone when he was asleep and discovered the messages between him and the girl and the photos and video of the victim.
The woman feared the girl was underaged as she saw the girl in her secondary school uniform, and forwarded the video to her phone. Three days later, she lodged a police report.
ELEMENT OF MORAL CORRUPTION: PROSECUTION
In his mitigation plea, Udhayakumar said he apologised to the girl and her family. He said that he came from a small village in Tamil Nadu, and that his parents were not in good health. He was ashamed of what he did, he added.
The prosecution sought 14 years in jail and 12 strokes of the cane. Deputy Public Prosecutor Gail Wong said Udhayakumar’s offences were pre-meditated, that he exploited the immaturity of the victim and that there was an element of moral corruption.
He allowed the victim to take items from the shop of “low monetary cost but high value to children” and conditioned her to accept that it was beneficial to her to engage in sexual acts with him, she added.
His termination of their relationship also showed that his previous generosity was “merely a facade" to get the young girl to have sex with him, she said. Ms Wong also said that the victim was “demonstrably immature” due to her lack of understanding about sex.
“By teaching the victim that it is ‘acceptable’ to engage in sexual activity for money or titbits, the accused has morally corrupted her to view her body as a mere object which can be sold for gain," she said.