While on the way home from her birthday celebration, a woman asked her husband to bring their granddaughter to a nearby stall to buy durians for the family.
Little did she know that her husband had been sexually assaulting their granddaughter for over a year.
Her husband brought their granddaughter, then only 11 years old, to an HDB staircase landing and forced her to perform oral sex on him.
In Singapore, after amendments to the Penal Code in 2020, rape includes oral and anal penetration.
The 68-year-old man has been sentenced to 12 years in jail after pleading guilty on Jul. 10, 2023, to raping his granddaughter, who was only 11 years old at the time. Eight other charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
A gag order protecting the victim prevents the publication of the man's identity.
On the way home after buying durians for step-grandmother
According to court documents, the man is the victim's maternal grandfather and stays with his wife, the victim's step-grandmother. Before the man's arrest, the victim regularly visited them on the weekends.
On July 2020, after a family dinner celebrating the step-grandmother's birthday at a shopping mall, while the rest of the family returned to their flat, the victim's step-grandmother asked her to follow her grandfather to buy durians from a nearby stall.
On their way home, the man brought the victim to a staircase landing and moved her to a secluded corner blocked from view.
He then kissed her, even when the victim kept her mouth closed and turned her head away.
From there, he pulled down the victim’s jeans and molested her, causing her to feel “disgusted and nauseated”.
However, when she pulled her pants back up and tried walking away, the man grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her back toward him.
He then forced her to perform oral sex on him.
Not the first time
This was not the first time the man had sexually assaulted his granddaughter.
The prosecution highlighted at least five other incidents where her grandfather sexually assaulted her, including another incident of coerced oral sex and another where he showed the victim pornographic material on his phone.
They said even though she was angry about the assault, she could not confide in the adults she trusted.
She also did not understand the sexual nature of her grandfather’s actions until she learned about “good touch” and “bad touch” from her Primary Six sex education classes.
On Jan. 25, 2021, the victim was referred to her school counsellor after she told her form teacher about a disagreement she had gotten into with her mother. It was only then that the victim revealed to the counsellor that her grandfather was sexually assaulting her.
The school counsellor contacted the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) Child Protection Service. The next day, MSF’s Child Protection Officers brought the victim to make a police report at the Criminal Investigation Department at Police Cantonment Complex.
Had nightmares of her grandfather
In February 2021, the victim was seen by a senior consultant at the Institute of Mental Health’s Child Guidance Clinic, who reported that the victim had nightmares of her grandfather and cried a lot at night.
In her victim impact statement (VIS), the victim reported that she also engaged in self-harm and had suicidal thoughts to cope with the stress of her experience.
She also elaborated in the VIS that she is now afraid of older men around her grandfather’s age, even feeling anxious when an old man sits beside her on the bus.
"Heinous intra-familial sexual abuse of a child": prosecution
Describing the case as a "heinous intra-familial sexual abuse of a child", the prosecution argued that the man should be jailed for 12 years for his crimes and another six months instead of caning. Rape convictions carry a mandatory caning sentence. However, offenders above 50 cannot be caned.
The man's defence lawyer, Haneef Abdul Malik from Trident Law Corporation, argued for no additional imprisonment instead of caning, given the man’s older age and clean record.
He argued that the relatively shorter additional term of imprisonment would not serve as much of the intended purpose to deter others from offending as compared to the longer prison term he would be put through in the first place.
The prosecution refuted the defence's arguments, emphasising that it was because of the man's seniority in the family which precisely allowed him to occupy a position of trust and authority over the victim,
"It is also precisely this position of trust which the accused so despicably abused in sexually violating the 11-year-old victim, who was defenceless against his sexual advances."
Should not be treated as a first-time offender
The prosecution also argued that the man’s clean record should not be considered grounds for a lighter sentence, given that the offences were committed over one-and-a-half years.
The spate of offences demonstrated a lack of remorse, said the prosecution.
However, the prosecution agreed with the defence that the man’s guilty plea saved the court resources and spared the victim the additional suffering of testifying at a trial.
The man was ultimately sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for raping his granddaughter, including six months in lieu of caning.
Top photo from Wikipedia Commons.