SINGAPORE — A Singaporean man who molested all of his three stepdaughters was jailed two years and eight months on Monday (22 March).
The 53-year-old was convicted on three counts of molesting the girls between 2014 and 2015. As he is over the age of 50, he will serve an additional 18 weeks' jail in lieu of caning.
His lawyer Luo Ling Ling told the court that he will be appealing against his conviction and sentence.
All three girls had decided to keep mum about the incident until their mother chanced upon a conversation between two of victims in 2017. Even then, they decided to keep silent in a bid to keep the family unit intact, the prosecution said at the close of the trial.
The incidents were reported to the police only in February 2019, when officers responded to an unrelated complaint of excessive noise coming from the family's flat.
The man cannot be named to protect the identities of the victims, who were aged between 11 and 15 at the time of the offences.
According to court documents, the defence argued that the victims had made false allegations against their stepfather at their mother's instigation in order to retain the flat and "earn an advantage in the divorce proceedings between her and (her husband)". The man also said that his admissions in a police statement should be disregarded as he made them after allegedly being promised by the investigation officer that he would be given a warning, or that they were falsified by the IO.
Victims kept silent
The victims' mother and their stepfather had first met in the course of their work. They married in 2013 and the three girls moved from Malaysia to Singapore the following year. The three victims shared a bedroom.
On the night of 10 February 2019, the man had consumed alcohol and was waiting for the victims’ mother to return from work. After meeting her at the bus stop, the two had a long quarrel that attracted the attention of an unknown party, who later called the police.
The man initially refused to let police officers into his flat and did not provide them with his identification documents. At some point the victims' mother spoke to officers, who later interviewed two of the sisters. The remaining sister was not at home at the time.
After interviewing the girls, the man was then placed under arrest for molest.
The youngest sister testified that sometime between 2014 and 2015, while she was lying on her bed, the man came and laid beside her. He then placed his hand across her body to grope her breast over her clothes. The girl, then aged between 11 and 12, said that she felt afraid and nervous. Unsure of what to do, she pretended as if nothing had happened and continued to use her mobile phone.
Fearful that her mother and stepfather would split up, the girl tried to keep her distance from the man and forget about the incident. She only told her elder sister about the incident in 2017. This was when the elder sister told her that she, too, had been inappropriately touched by the man.
The eldest sister recalled that around their mother’s birthday in 2014 or 2015 the man had purchased a cake and brought it home.
When the girl – who was 14 or 15 years old at the time – went to call her stepfather to the celebration that night, she noticed that he seemed drunk. As the girl walked off, the man grabbed her from behind and groped her breasts. The girl struggled and shouted but did not tell her mother about the incident, fearing that it would cause them to fight.
The offence against the middle sister took place in 2015, when she was aged 13 to 14. The girl was sleeping in the master bedroom when she awoke to the sensation of someone touching her. She turned over to find her stepfather touching her breast over her clothes.
When she was in Secondary 1, the man would often also molest her when giving her pocket money. This led to the girl becoming rebellious and she seldom spent time at home. While she distanced herself from the man, she would still seek him out for money and to buy cigarettes.
For each charge of molesting a minor under the age of 14, the man could have been jailed up to five years, fined, caned, or handed any combination of the punishments. For molest, he could have been jailed up to two years, fined, caned, or received any combination of the punishments, on each charge.
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