Judges dismiss appeal by father convicted of raping daughter, reject semen contamination theory
SINGAPORE: A man convicted of raping his teenage daughter at least twice in their Punggol flat had his appeal against his conviction dismissed on Thursday (Sep 19).
The 36-year-old technician, who was out on S$60,000 bail posted by his wife, was also ordered to begin serving his sentence of 26 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane.
His defence lawyer had argued that the daughter was rebellious and wanted to break free of parental control.
Her parents had had her when they were both 17 and she was raised for about 10 years by her grandfather, the court heard. During that time, her father was also in jail for an unnamed offence.
Lawyer Peter Keith Fernando had also sought to convince the three-judge court that a pair of the girl's pink shorts with the man's semen on it could have been accidentally contaminated by semen in a common laundry basket shared by the family.
However, Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang and Justices Woo Bih Li and Chao Hick Tin found that the trial judge had fully considered the evidence and was justified in convicting the man on both charges of rape.
NO CORROBORATION OF EVIDENCE ON FIRST CHARGE: DEFENCE LAWYER
Mr Fernando first addressed the first charge of rape, where the man raped the 14-year-old girl in the toilet of their Punggol flat on Nov 19, 2014.
Her mother was at work in a clinic, and the man raped his daughter while she was changing in the bathroom.
The victim had testified during the trial that she had called out to her younger sister for help. She heard the nine-year-old saying "papa, molester!" before hearing the sound of laughter.
Mr Fernando argued that the younger sister had said in her statement that she did not recall her older sister asking for help.
The victim's seven-year-old brother also said he did not remember his sister asking for help, even though the victim had said she shouted out "very loudly", said Mr Fernando.
He said there was "not an iota of evidence to corroborate" the victim's version of events for this charge.
He added that the teen got dressed and left with her siblings and father to her mother's clinic without making a "whimper whatsoever" to anyone about the incident.
"This was alleged to have been the fifth occasion where the father had raped her," said the lawyer. "The evidence of the complainant in my humble submission is nothing but a bare allegation against her father."
Additionally, there was no DNA evidence for this charge.
He said the trial judge had "gravely erred" in finding that the evidence was corroborated, and that the conviction was "unsafe and unsatisfactory".
GIRL HAD A "REBELLIOUS STREAK"
The lawyer also addressed the character of the victim, claiming that she "had a habit of lying to her parents", and that she had a "rebellious streak" about her.
She had admitted to running away many times as she felt pressure at home, and had no less than 18 to 19 relationships with men, said Mr Fernando.
At this, Justice Chao said he felt the definition of "relationship" here was a loose one.
"At that age, I think, one week you're boyfriend-girlfriend, then (it's) I don't want to friend you anymore," he said.
Justice Woo reminded Mr Fernando to be careful, after the defence lawyer acknowledged that he was not suggesting the girl already had sex with many people at that age.
"She said she was a virgin when raped by her father, but I believe evidence did not show she was a virgin, there was an old scar on her hymen," said Mr Fernando.
He said the trial judge "should have considered whether the bare allegation was made against her father because she sought her freedom and ... she was so angry, she conjured up these allegations".
However, the judges pointed out that the girl had showed reluctance to report her father, with her boyfriend being the one who went to the police.
The girl's mother had testified for the defence in the trial, and had made several police reports including one when her daughter went missing in August 2014.
She also confiscated her daughter's phone when she learned that the girl, who later accused her husband of raping her eight times, was talking about sex with other men.
THE SEMEN CONTAMINATION THEORY
There was evidence of sperm found on the inside of the victim's pink shorts that she had worn during the second proceeded charge of rape in January 2015, but Mr Fernando said the sperm could have been a result of contamination in a shared laundry basket.
He said the girl had said it was normal for all her dirty clothes to be placed in a common laundry basket shared by the family, and could not remember when she had hung the pink shorts by her window to dry.
The police had found the shorts there four days after the rape and the appellant's semen was found on it.
Mr Fernando theorised that the girl could have tossed the shorts into the laundry basket and got contaminated by sperm from the man's clothes, before hanging it to dry.
Justice Tay said this had to be a "very, very high coincidence", since there was no allegation that the victim deliberately pushed her shorts against her father's clothes to get the semen on.
Justice Chao added that for this to be true, it would have to be "as a jackpot", for the girl to throw her clothes into the basket and for them to happen to be contaminated.
After the judges dismissed the appeal, Mr Fernando tried to request two weeks' deferment of sentence, saying his client wanted "to ensure that the home fires are kept alive while he's away".
However, the prosecution objected saying that the man had been sentenced in November and had almost 10 months to settle any arrangements.
The judges ruled for the man to begin serving his sentence on Thursday.
The girl, who is 19 this year, no longer lives with her parents and siblings.