SINGAPORE: A freelance tennis coach who was "ashamed of his sexuality" grew close to a 14-year-old male student he taught and later exploited him sexually.
Phoo Siang Qing, 40, was jailed for 33 months on Friday (Dec 18) for two counts of sexual exploitation of a young person and one count of sexual penetration of a minor. Six other similar charges were considered in sentencing.
The court heard that Phoo began coaching the victim at his school in 2011. The boy was in Secondary 1 at the point in time.
After an overseas trip in June 2013, the boy and his coach became closer.
The boy also went for additional training lessons as he wanted to train more, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Zu Zhao.
Phoo began taking the boy for dinner, asking him out for movies and taking him home. He began kissing the boy's cheek and forehead when he dropped him off at his house, and asked if he could kiss his lips.
The boy was initially reluctant but eventually gave in, according to court documents, and Phoo would later regularly give the boy goodbye kisses on the lips.
Court documents stated that they would also hug and kiss in Phoo's car or house, and Phoo started molesting the boy.
Occasionally, the boy would follow Phoo home after training and they would shower together and perform sex acts on each other.
Court documents did not specify how the crimes came to light. The prosecutor asked for at least four years' jail, while the defence asked for 16 months.
Lawyer Peter Keith Fernando said his client came from an abusive family, which had an effect on his esteem and self-worth.
"He had a sexual orientation as a teenager in secondary school where he was not attracted to members of the opposite sex and felt uncomfortable and ashamed of his sexuality," said Mr Fernando.
Phoo had difficulties with interpersonal relationships and his mental health, was reserved in nature and lacked self-confidence, he added.
He said his client periodically suffered from depression and that the crimes occurred "in the context of the nature of a relationship between them which had developed into an interpersonal one".
The victim "had expressed curiosity about sexuality" and asked Phoo about it on several occasions.
"My client perceives that it had developed into a relationship with the (victim). Each time the (victim) was with him, he had voluntarily gone to the accused's car to be fetched home, he had gone to the accused's house. It was not a question of my client in any way pressuring him to be with him," said Mr Fernando.
The prosecutor responded that the psychiatric report tendered by the defence did not show how Phoo's conditions reduced his culpability in any way.
He added that the victim knew Phoo only because he was his coach and this was a coach-student relationship, which featured an abuse of trust.
For each count of sexual exploitation of a young person, Phoo could have been jailed for up to five years, fined up to S$10,000, or both.
For sexual penetration of a minor, he could have been jailed up to 10 years and fined.