SINGAPORE: A young man pleaded guilty in court to molesting two children on Monday (Aug 6).
Jeremy Low Wei Hao, 20, admitted to two charges of the use of criminal force intending to outrage the modesty of an 11-year-old boy and a five-year-old girl respectively.
Another charge of committing an obscene act with a child will be taken into consideration for sentencing.
The court heard that on April 13 last year, the boy, who cannot be named due to a gag order, was walking home from school. The boy, who was in his school uniform, took a route through some HDB flats.
Low had been following him as he had "an urge" to molest him, court documents said.
While the boy was looking at his handphone, as he walked past a lift lobby at a block of flats, Low accosted him from the back and molested him repeatedly.
The boy was shocked and tried to struggle, but this was ineffective as Low was more than a head taller than him.
Low pulled the boy backwards by his backpack and the boy fell onto the floor, where Low molested him again.
Low then fled while the boy was still on the floor. The young boy returned home and told his mother what happened, and she called the police.
Police officers responding to the incident spotted Low, who matched the description given by the victim, and he was detained shortly after.
Low claimed that he had seen a newspaper article on a child molester, and this had ignited "his urge to touch young children", court documents said.
HE MOLESTED A FIVE-YEAR-OLD GIRL WHILE ON BAIL
After Low was charged for this offence and was out on court bail, he molested another young child.
On Oct 29 last year, at about 2pm, the second victim was in a storeroom at her mother's shop downtown.
The girl, who was in kindergarten, was in the room alone, drawing pictures.
Low was in the vicinity to meet his lawyer for his first offence. When he walked past, he noticed the girl through a glass window of the shop and had an urge to molest her.
He entered the shop and molested the girl. He also made her perform a sexual act on him. While he was doing this, he told the girl that "it was 'OK'". The girl did not shout, although she felt scared.
At this point, her mother came over and saw Low, who fled upon seeing her. She observed that her daughter was shocked.
She then called the police and informed security. Low was arrested later.
PROSECUTION CALLS FOR REFORMATIVE TRAINING
Deputy Public Prosecutor Gail Wong on Monday asked for reformative training for Low.
Reformative training is a more severe punishment than probation and can be given to offenders aged below 21. It requires the offender to be detained in a structured environment for at least 18 months.
Ms Wong said that there was some degree of force in Low's encounter with the boy, and pointed out that his victims were very young children, who reacted with shock and fear.
She referenced a report by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) that indicated that Low was diagnosed with paedophilic disorder as well as mild autistic spectrum disorder.
However, while there was a contributory link between his paedophilic disorder and his offences, there was none between his autism and his offences, Ms Wong said.
Dr Hatta Santoso Ong, senior resident of IMH's Department of General and Forensic Psychiatry, said in his report that Low had been seen at the IMH outpatient clinic in August last year for reported urges to "hug and molest young boys".
The report further documented that Low "felt satisfied" about the knowledge he gained from a news report on a child molester.
"For the next six months, he would re-read the article on an almost daily basis, and felt aroused after each reading," said the report.
ACCUSED SUFFERS FROM ASPERGER'S: DEFENCE
Low's defence lawyer said Low has been very remorseful and contrite, and cited a different doctor - Dr Tommy Tan from Novena Psychiatry Clinic.
The defence said Low was suffering from Asperger's syndrome, and has from a young age.
He was caught in a female toilet in secondary school and caught watching pornography in polytechnic.
Low graduated last year and was unemployed at the time of the offences. His defence lawyer added that on the day that Low molested the girl, he had forgotten to take his medicine.
He said that Low had received several commendations when he was a student, including one from his employer during his internship, and another by his teacher on his design skills.
He lives with his older brother and mother, while his older sister is married. His two siblings have been "very active in interacting with him" after the incidents, the defence said. Low's father has died.
PROSECUTION ASKS COURT NOT TO RELY ON PSYCHIATRIC REPORT BY DEFENCE
The prosecution called for the court not to rely on Dr Tan's report, saying that there was insufficient reasoning and justification in the report.
The report also did not mention Low's paedophilic disorder, and "was partisan" as Dr Tan urged the court to ask for a mandatory treatment order, said the prosecutor.
"That is not his role as a psychiatrist to plead for the accused," said Ms Wong. "This shows the report is partisan and should not be relied upon."
She added that even though Low's social functioning was lower than his peers, it was clear from his own defence that he could function as he held an internship and was a scout leader.
District Judge May Mesenas adjourned the case for sentencing to next week and called for probation and reformative training reports.
For using criminal force to outrage the modesty of the girl, Low can be jailed for up to five years, fined, caned, or given any combination of these punishments.
For outraging the modesty of the boy with wrongful restraint, he can be jailed for between three years and 10 years and caned.