High Court judge rebukes NTU student's lawyer for dumping blame on 13-year-old victim of sex offender

The judge also raised the offender's initial two year jail sentence by nine months.

Andrew Koay | January 26, 2021, 06:48 PM

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Convicted for the sexual penetration of a minor, a 26-year-old Nanyang Technological University (NTU) student asked for a lighter sentence than the two year jail term he'd been given.

Instead, the High Court judge rejected the appeal and added nine more months to the offender's jail term.

Justice Aedit Abdullah, also reprimanded the man's former lawyer, S Radakrishnan, for his "blatant and unapologetic attempt to foist responsibility and blame on the victim", a 13-year-old girl.

According to the judge's ruling, Radakrishnan had alluded to the girl's supposed promiscuity, ill-repute, and initiation of intimacy with the offender in his submissions during the original court case.

He had also included photographs of the victim which seemed to be intended to show her sexual maturity.

"On Mr. Radakrishnan’s accounts, it sounded as though it was the victim who had been sexually predatory and led the accused astray," wrote the judge.

"I am appalled: the accused was the adult in the situation."

The judge added for the record that the assertions would have been misplaced even if the victim was an adult.

Coaxed her into sexual acts

The NTU student had previously pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual penetration of a minor in January 2020.

Another eight other similar charges were taken into consideration when meting out the original sentence of two years jail.

In 2017, the offender — then 22 — became acquainted with the 13-year-old girl while they were both volunteering at their former primary school.

After contacting her on social media, the man sent her a photo of his genitals and asked for her to do the same.

They would go on to meet in person on multiple occasions — including once at his NTU hostel — and engage in sexual acts.

He eventually coaxed her into sexual intercourse despite her hesitancy, before breaking off their relationship.

The man later started work as a substitute teacher at the girl's school.

Meted out a harsher sentence

The offender later appealed his jail sentence, asking for probation instead, on the grounds the original sentencing didn't factor in rehabilitation.

The prosecution also appealed, seeking a harsher sentence.

In considering the appeals, the High Court judge concluded that he had difficulty accepting that the offender's "remorse was as substantial and genuine as argued".

Aedit cited the defence's attempt in mitigation to cast aspersions on the victim.

The judge also noted his doubt at the offender's assertion that his subsequent academic performance at NTU showed his willingness to reform.

Testimonials for the convicted man also appear to have been written without the knowledge of those who provided them that they will be used in court.

In dismissing the appeal of the man and allowing the prosecution's appeal, the judge raised the offender's sentence to 33 months in jail.

He also noted that had the man not disavowed his previous lawyer's victim blaming submissions, he would have raised the sentence by even more.

Top image by Mothership

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