Her mother was dying and the 13-year-old had run away from home repeatedly.
So the 43-year-old man offered to be the teenager's godfather and help care for her.
Her parents agreed.
But he betrayed their trust by having sex with her on three occasions, once in an ancestral temple, a week before her mother died.
Yesterday, Terence Ng Kean Meng was jailed for 14 months and ordered to be given 14 strokes of the cane for committing statutory rape and sexually violating her with his finger.
She cannot be named due to a gag order to protect her identity.
Ng was a cobbler who had a makeshift stall near Commonwealth MRT station in October 2013, when he first met the girl. She had been loitering near his stall.
Ng, a divorcee without children, asked her if she wanted to go home and she said she was afraid to do so as she had run away.
He took her to her home, where he spoke to her ill mother.
Ng learnt she had run away from home for long periods of time and he offered to care for her, to accompany her to activities and even to be her godfather.
The girl's parents agreed.
Over the next 12 days, Ng and the girl met daily at his makeshift stall and she would stay and chat with him till late at night.
He would then send her home.
Despite knowing she was just 13, Ng thought about having sex with her.
On Oct 29, 2013, at about 6.30pm, they were in his three-room HDB flat when she told him she had an upset stomach.
Ng applied some ointment on her stomach. When she told him later that she felt better, he asked her if she wanted to have sex with him.
When she agreed, they went into the toilet, where he used his finger to sexually violate her.
They had sex the same day.
A few days later, in November 2013, they were in his bedroom and had unprotected sex on his bed.
On Dec 1, 2013, Ng had sex with the girl again, this time at an ancestral temple in the Commonwealth area.
His offences came to light after the girl's mother died eight days later.
The girl's father, who works as an operator, told her to cease all contact with Ng.
Sad and depressed after her mother's death, the girl told a school staff member what had happened, said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Vikneswaran Kumaran in court yesterday.
The girl made a police report on Feb 7 last year, and Ng was arrested four days later.
Yesterday, in the Supreme Court, Ng pleaded guilty to one count of statutory rape and another charge of sexual penetration of a minor with his finger. Two other charges were taken into consideration.
DPP Vikneswaran said Ng had abused the trust placed in him by the girl's parents, adding that he had approached them as an adult and had offered to be her godfather.
Ng's lawyer, Mr Subir Singh, said in mitigation that his client was remorseful and he had committed the offences out of naivety and weak-mindedness.
For having sex with the girl who was under 14, Ng could have been jailed up to 20 years, fined and caned.
For sexually penetrating the minor with his finger, he could have also have been jailed up to 20 years, fined and caned.
This article was first published on May 28, 2015.
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