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Man jailed more than 33 years for sexually abusing 4 daughters over 14 years

Man jailed more than 33 years for sexually abusing 4 daughters over 14 years

People walk across a bridge near the Supreme Court in Singapore on Nov 9, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: A man who sexually abused four of his daughters over 14 years was on Friday (Mar 18) sentenced to 33 years and two months' jail, and given the maximum 24 strokes of the cane.

Delivering his judgment, Justice Tan Siong Thye called the man's abuse "horrific" and "one of the worst cases of rape and sexual assault" he had seen.

The Singaporean offender, now 45, last week admitted to raping or sexually assaulting four of his daughters between 2004 and 2018. Over five days in September 2018, he also starved them when he was angry with them.

He pleaded guilty last week to seven charges of aggravated rape, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated outrage of modesty and ill-treatment of a child. The victim in the charges was his daughter, now aged 16. She was aged 12 to 13 at the time of the offences.

The offender and victim, identified as V1 in court documents, cannot be named due to gag orders on their identities.

Twenty-six more charges, mostly for rape, sexual assault and outrage of modesty of the man's other daughters, were taken into consideration for sentencing. These included charges of hurting his wife by punching, caning and slapping her.

The offender was a freelance camp instructor for kids' adventure camps prior to his arrest. He and his wife, now 41, have four other children together - three girls now aged 12, 18 and 19 and a boy now aged 15. He also has a 24-year-old daughter and a 23-year-old son from a previous marriage.

Justice Tan noted that the man's sexual exploitation of his children started when his oldest daughter was only six to seven years old. Only his youngest daughter was spared. The man abused his position and the trust of his children as their biological father, said the judge.

There was clear premeditation as the offender took deliberate steps to separate V1 from the family in order to assault her, said Justice Tan. An example of this was when he took her to the family's new flat that was still under construction and raped her there.

The man also sexually groomed his daughter and tried to normalise his abuse by showing her a pornographic video of a man supposedly having sex with his daughter when the victim was in Primary 5.

Justice Tan said the "sheer number" of charges taken into consideration "speaks volumes about the accused's perverse exploitation of his own biological and vulnerable daughters".

These aggravating factors outweighed any mitigating weight of the offender's plea of guilt, which was done for self-serving reasons in hopes of a lenient sentence, rather than remorse, said the judge.

"To the children, the home is the haven where there is parental love, warmth, security, protection, solace, peace, harmony and equanimity," said Justice Tan.

"The accused destroyed the cherished values of the victims' sanctuary and turned their home into a living hell. He had caused unimaginable misery and untold torment to them for several years," he continued.

As the number of strokes of the cane the offender was sentenced to exceeded the statutory maximum of 24 when added up, the man's sentence included an additional seven months' jail in lieu of the balance of 36 strokes.

"Offenders must not think that they can get away with the statutory maximum of 24 strokes of the cane by committing numerous rapes and sexual assaults," said Justice Tan.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Muhamad Imaduddien, Sarah Siaw and Angela Ang had sought 32 years' jail and the maximum number of strokes of the cane.

The man's pro bono defence lawyers, Ms Ng Pei Qi and Ms Sadhana Rai, had asked for 26 to 28 years' jail and the maximum caning sentence.

ABUSE STARTED IN PRIMARY 5

Last week, the court heard details of the offender's sexual abuse of V1. This started in 2016, when she was in Primary 5, and usually happened at night while her mother was out working.

In 2018, he told the victim that she needed to have sex with him monthly or he would stop her from going to school. She was afraid of having to remain home all day if she did not attend school, which would mean spending more time with her father and being abused by him.

She did not dare to physically resist her father as she was afraid he would turn aggressive and withdraw her from school.

She did not tell anyone because he made her promise not to, and she did not want him to hate her. She also feared no one would believe her, and that she would be sent away from her family to stay in a girls' home.

As part of the abuse, the man also conducted "body checks" on the victim and two of her sisters, who were aged 14 or 15 and 15 or 16 at the time.

DENIED HIS CHILDREN FOOD

In the evening of Sep 1, 2018, the man got angry that V1 and two of her sisters had brought their younger siblings to the playground before finishing their household chores to his satisfaction.

He punished the girls by not allowing them and their younger brother, then about 12, to eat for the next four days.

He threw away all the food in the house. He did not cook, and also forbade his wife from cooking, instead dining out if they wanted to eat.

There were large bottles of water in the refrigerator, but he bound them together with rubber bands so he would know if the children had tampered with them.

He also cut off the electricity supply to the family's lights, refrigerator and air-conditioner. When it was warm, the children fanned themselves with pieces of paper.

Over the next four days, the children subsisted on tap water and food that was smuggled to them by other members of the family without their father's knowledge.

The man only allowed his children to eat plain rice on the night of Sep 6, 2018. They resumed eating and drinking as usual the next day.

Justice Tan said the offender's conduct pointed to the "systematic isolation and starvation of the children far exceeding the threshold of mere discipline".

These offences painted a "disturbing and tragic picture of the physical domination" the man enjoyed over his family.

DISCOVERY OF OFFENCES

The offender's abuse was discovered after the last time he raped V1, on Nov 16, 2018.

Two of her sisters noticed the girl leaving the master bedroom that night and found it strange. When they asked her about it, she broke down and said that their father had just had sex with her. She also said this had been happening since she was in Primary 5.

One of her sisters persuaded her to file a police report, and they decided to go to a police station far away from their house so their father could not find them.

They left the flat after midnight under the pretence of going to throw rubbish and took a Grab car to a police station. There, V1 lodged a police report to say her father had been sexually assaulting her.

After his daughters left the flat, the man searched for them at three police stations but to no avail. That morning, he spent more than an hour visiting websites on how to pass a lie detector test. He was arrested in the afternoon of Nov 17, 2018.

After lodging the police report, the victim was taken to KK Women's and Children's Hospital, where she was warded for a week. She then stayed at a children's home for about two weeks before returning home.

Justice Tan noted that victim impact statements by the man's daughters made clear the "lasting trauma and painful wounds" they lived with.

V1 said there were times she blamed herself that her siblings no longer had a father, as it was the offender's final assault of her that led to the police report.

"Despite her family's support, she could not help but feel that she was fighting this emotional battle alone," said the judge. 

"She also stated that she would still have nightmares about the incidents at least once a month and has since lost trust in men."

Her older sister spoke about how painful it was to remain silent about the abuse, as she was afraid to break up her family.

Another sister feared "ever having a father figure in their home again, as it would serve as a reminder of the accused's deeds", said the judge.

"Nothing can restore the victims' innocence or compensate for their suffering," said Justice Tan, but the sentence reflected the "atrocities" committed against them and would deter potential offenders.

Source: CNA/dv(rw)
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