SINGAPORE: A teenager in a plot to rob prostitutes took it a step further and raped one of them while his accomplices took the spoils.
Mendel See Li Quan, now 19, was sentenced on Monday (Sep 16) to seven years' jail and 15 strokes of the cane.
He pleaded guilty to one charge each of rape, robbery by night with common intention and theft with common intention, with eight other charges taken into consideration for sentencing.
See, a Malaysian and Singapore permanent resident, was 17 when he met his accomplices, Chow Chia Suan and Benjamin Yong Dun Zheng, who were both 22 at the time and dating.
The trio hatched a plot to steal money from prostitutes, first obtaining their contacts from websites before arranging to meet and then rob them.
See had contacted the victim, a 53-year-old Singaporean woman, asking for sexual services at his home.
The woman, whose identity is protected by gag order, instructed a Filipina known as "Denny" to head down, but she did not show up, the court heard.
Angered by this, See wanted to take revenge on the victim.
LURED RAPE VICTIM WITH HIGH PAY
He contacted her using Chow's phone and offered her S$900 for sexual services, a large amount of money to ensure she would personally take the job.
The victim turned up at Yong's Yishun flat on the night of Oct 2, 2017.
As part of their plan, Yong received the woman before See and Chow pretended to enter the unit and demand money from Yong while threatening him with a rod.
See and Chow then turned to the victim and demanded that she pay Yong's "debt".
The pair robbed the woman, with See pointing a chopper at her and pushing her against a wall with his hand around her neck.
After Chow took cash, phones and cigarettes worth S$763 in total from the victim's bag, See told the couple to leave the room.
He closed the door behind them and, wielding the chopper, told the victim to remove her clothes.
After she did so, See raped the woman, who did not dare refuse him out of fear, said Deputy Public Prosecutors Gail Wong and Sheryl Yeo.
See did not pay the woman for sex at any point.
He pointed the chopper at her and told her to leave when she asked for the valuables that she realised had gone missing from her bag.
She called the police once she was safely home, while See and his accomplices spent the money they had taken on food, transport and Internet gaming.
HELPED STEAL HUNDREDS FROM ANOTHER VICTIM
Other than this victim, See was also involved in stealing S$670 from another prostitute.
The victim was a China national working as a beauty therapist who listed massages and sexual services on the Locanto website.
See paid the woman S$600 for sex and had intercourse with her in his home, while three other accomplices including Yong and Chow took S$670 in cash from her handbag.
The prosecution urged the court to sentence See to at least nine years' jail and 15 strokes of the cane, saying that rape "is one of the worst penetrative sexual offences", causing bodily harm and psychological trauma.
Despite his age, See was a "mature serial offender who is highly culpable", said the prosecution.
She said See was an active participant, being the one who held the chopper in the robbery and the one who deceived the prostitute from China, luring her to his home.
Defence lawyers Siraj Shaik Aziz and Ng Shi Yang had called for a reformative training suitability report. If this was not allowed, they urged the judge to sentence their client to between seven years, and eight years and one month's jail.
Mr Siraj told the court that this was "an unfortunate dark chapter" in See's life, and that he had committed the offences two months after his 17th birthday.
While he has been out on bail, he has been spending time with his family, which is important as he was previously "largely out of the home" with no supervision, said the lawyer.
PARENTS BLAME THEMSELVES
See's parents had penned a letter to the court as part of their son's mitigation plea, saying they "felt very angry and blamed (themselves) for not looking after him".
"Sometimes, I even get a naive thought on why is it that I am not able to serve the term on behalf my child (sic)," read the letter.
See himself wrote a letter in mitigation to say he was "genuinely sorry" for the pain and hurt caused to the victim and his family.
"I regret mixing with my so-called brothers and friends who made me feel that they would protect me and stay true to me," he wrote.
He added that he had "wasted quite some time" in his life hanging out with these friends and "thinking that (he) was having the best time of (his) life, till the day (he) was caught".
Justice Valerie Thean said that "crucial to this case is the amount of violence and brutality, where a chopper was used".
She added that while See's age would usually mean rehabilitation is used as a starting point, the facts of this case displace rehabilitation with the need for deterrence and retribution.
Even so, she noted that his youth was a key consideration and the sentence should not be crushing in view of his age and prospects for rehabilitation.
The judge granted See bail pending appeal, but agreed to the prosecution's request to double the amount to S$100,000.
Chow had been sentenced to four years' jail in January, while Yong received three-and-a-half years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane.