SINGAPORE: For about six years from when she was just 12, a man sexually abused his stepdaughter, promising her that he would stop when she turned 18.
However, her 18th birthday came and went, and the abuse went unabated. The young woman turned to her mother and exposed the man, who is now 45.
The names of all involved cannot be revealed, due to a court order protecting the victim's identity.
The former driver pleaded guilty to three charges of aggravated sexual assault by penetration on Thursday (Feb 7), with another 18 charges taken into consideration.
For his crimes, he was sentenced to 24 years' jail and will receive 24 strokes of the cane.
The court heard that the man married the victim's mother in 2007, about seven years after she divorced the victim's biological father.
She bore the accused two other children, and the family lived in Malaysia with the accused's mother from 2010, with the victim commuting daily across the border to attend school in Singapore.
ABUSE CONTINUED AFTER FAMILY MOVED TO SINGAPORE
It was in this home that he began sexually abusing his stepdaughter, who was about 12 to 13 at the time.
In 2011, the man took his stepdaughter to a flat in Woodlands in Singapore, where they were alone. He shut all the windows in the living room so that no one could look in from the corridor, and forced his stepdaughter to perform a sex act on him.
The 12-year-old protested, but he forced her to comply. A few months later, the man again attacked the child in the same flat.
He made her undress and undressed himself, before sexually abusing her. The child did not want to comply, but did so as she felt helpless, the prosecution said.
The abuse continued after the family moved to Singapore in 2012, where they lived in a Bukit Merah flat.
The man would wait for the victim's mother and stepsiblings to fall asleep before ordering the victim to wait for him in the toilet, where he would force her to perform a sex act on him.
VICTIM TOLD HER MOTHER, THEY DID NOT REPORT IT AT FIRST
The girl kept quiet about the abuse, and her stepfather promised her that he would stop abusing her once she turned 18.
However, he broke this promise after her 18th birthday in 2017. The girl, who is now 20, told her mother about what had happened.
Her mother was shocked but supported her child, asking her to move to her biological father's flat and stop talking to her stepfather.
They considered making a police report but did not do so, instead changing the victim's phone number so that her stepfather could not contact her.
This proved safe for the girl, but when she moved back to stay with her stepfather and mother during the June holidays that year, the abuse began again.
Immediately after her stepfather forced her to perform a sex act on him early on the morning of Jun 13, 2017, the teenager woke her mother up and told her what had happened.
They waited for the man to go to work before lodging a report with the police, who arrested the man.
MAN DIAGNOSED WITH PAEDOPHILIC DISORDER
After his arrest, the offender told Dr Jaydip Sarker at the Institute of Mental Health that he had engaged in sexual activity with his stepdaughter as he had an "increased sexual need".
Dr Sarker diagnosed him with paedophilic disorder of a form that did not deprive him of his self-control. He explained that paedophilic disorder is a deviant arousal pattern which leads to offending behaviour only if the accused chooses to indulge in it.
Another doctor confirmed that the accused is a paedophile, adding that he had a moderate risk of reoffending.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Raja Mohan and Winston Man had asked for a jail term of 26 years, along with the mandatory 24 strokes of the cane.
The offender had previous unrelated convictions, including drug consumption in 2000 and desertion from civil defence in 1993.
He had abused the trust of both the victim and his wife, the prosecution said, and the child "suffered in silence" for six years. His actions were also premeditated and persistent, and paedophiles "represent a social danger", Mr Mohan said.
The man's defence lawyer Melvin Loh said his client wished only for leniency, and pointed out that he had been cooperative and pleaded guilty.
"He was the sole breadwinner of a family of about seven," said Mr Loh. "And he has two young biological daughters. His family as a whole are suffering because of this."
Judicial Commissioner Audrey Lim said she agreed with the prosecution that there were several aggravating factors, which included a young victim and a clear abuse of the accused's position.
The man played the role of a father figure, but took steps to isolate his stepdaughter before committing the offences, she said.
For each charge of aggravated sexual assault by penetration, he could have been sentenced to between eight and 20 years' jail and given at least 12 strokes of the cane.