SINGAPORE, July 22 — Several months after being released from prison for drug-related offences, a man sexually exploited his 14-year-old grandniece who had turned to him in times of trouble.
The girl confided in her social worker, but was initially reluctant to tell the police about what had happened for fear of making her family angry or breaking them up.
It took three attempts for an investigation officer to take a victim impact statement from her.
She said that she had nightmares every night and did not trust anyone any longer, even her own family members and friends. She also developed suicidal thoughts.
Her maternal granduncle, now aged 57, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years’ jail yesterday (July 21).
The Singaporean man cannot be named due to a court order to protect the identity of the victim, who was in Secondary 2 at the time.
His past criminal history dates as far back as 1990 when he was jailed and caned for robbery. Most recently, he was jailed for seven years and given six strokes of the cane in 2011 for drug consumption.
He was arrested again in 2019 after the girl reported the sexual offences, but he absconded and went on to reoffend by committing acts such as stealing bicycles and avoiding urine tests.
Yesterday, he pleaded guilty to theft and failing to report for urine tests, as well as two charges of sexual penetration of a minor. Four other similar charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
Played an R21 movie
The man met his grandniece for the first time in 2019, after he completed his latest prison stint and went to live with her family, the court heard.
He later moved out but continued to visit the family regularly. She found him trustworthy and as someone she could turn to in times of need, Deputy Public Prosecutors Muhamad Imaduddien and Grace Teo told the court.
In late 2019, the girl ran away from home and went to his flat, thinking it was the only place she knew she could stay.
While they were alone there, he played an R21-rated movie on the television. The flick featured rape and rampant drug abuse.
As it was about to finish, he hugged her and kissed her neck, before sexually violating her.
The next day, he told the girl to lie to her mother that she had spent the night alone in the flat and to keep silent about what he had done. She complied when her mother arrived to pick her up.
About a week later, he asked her to get lunch for him.
While they were again alone in the flat, he asked her for a “quickie”, which she understood to mean sex.
He got her to perform an obscene act on him and sexually abused her once more. She avoided his flat after this, fearing he would ask her to repeat the acts.
She disclosed her trauma to her social worker on November 15, 2019.
‘I struggle every single day’
During investigations, a police investigation officer failed twice in recording a victim impact statement from the girl. Her case worker reported that she had experienced anxiety attacks and emotional dysregulation — a poor ability to manage her emotions — while recalling the offences.
When she finally gave a statement in June this year, she said: “I have nightmares every single night. The memory of the things he did to me has never (left) my mind. I struggle every single day to try to stop thinking about it but I have never succeeded.”
The man was arrested on December 31, 2019 and warded in Ng Teng Fong General Hospital after overdosing on heroin — a controlled drug.
He was discharged and released on personal bond, but proceeded to abscond. He was arrested again on July 29 last year at the void deck of a block of flats in Jurong East.
He had been placed on a drug supervision order after his release from prison in 2019, but failed to go for 99 urine tests up till his most recent arrest as he had begun taking drugs and drinking alcohol again.
For each charge of sexual penetration of a minor under 16, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years or fined, or both.
Where to get help
Samaritans of Singapore (24-hour hotline): 1800-221-4444
Community Health Assessment Team: 6493 6500/01 or click on the webchat icon at chat.mentalhealth.sg
Singapore Association for Mental Health helpline: 1800-283-7019 ― TODAY