Cop: Benjamin Lim said he felt 'urge to touch her'

Cop: Benjamin Lim said he felt 'urge to touch her'
Senior Investigation Officer (SIO) Mohammad Fareed Rahmat.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Senior Investigation Officer (SIO) Mohammad Fareed Rahmat, who interviewed Benjamin Lim and the 11-year-old girl he allegedly molested, read out his police statement for the first time yesterday.

In it, Benjamin Lim, 14, admitted he had a sudden "urge to touch her".

He admitted to feeling sexually aroused when he touched her.

And he admitted he "purposely dropped his mobile phone on the floor" to create an opportunity to touch the girl in the lift.

SIO Fareed was the final witness on the stand at the State Courts, where a two-day coroner's inquiry into Benjamin's death was held.

The policeman recorded the statement at Ang Mo Kio police station at 12.15pm on Jan 26 this year. The boy fell to his death at 4.30pm that day.

The statement contained details of Benjamin's admission, including how he had first spotted the girl at a bus stop.

He was walking home from North View Secondary School at about 2.30pm on Jan 25 using a different route than usual. The bus stop was near his home.

He saw the girl in her school uniform, alone.

Initially, Benjamin claimed he paid little notice to the girl, who was from another school and not known to him.

She walked in the same direction as Benjamin, who walked behind her.

She looked back at Benjamin and started to walk slowly.

He got scared that she would think he was following her.

Said Benjamin in the statement: "Suddenly, I have the urge to touch her. I find that the girl is quite cute-looking and that is why I want to touch her. So I decided to follow her."

They entered the lift together at around 2.50pm, said SIO Fareed.

The statement said Benjamin had planned how to touch her and he intentionally dropped his mobile phone to touch the girl on the left buttock with his right hand.

After the contact, the boy felt scared about what he had done and quickly apologised.

The girl nodded, the statement said.

"I am sorry for what happened," said Benjamin in his statement.

"I felt regret for what I did. I just felt the urge to touch the girl on that day."

He added that this was the first time he had touched a girl.

"I know what I did is wrong. I promised not to do this again. I hope the police can give me a second chance," he said in the statement.

Before recording this statement, SIO Fareed told the court that Benjamin's initial story had been that he had mistakenly thought the block of flats was where he lived.

TRUTH

But SIO Fareed realised that Benjamin could have been lying when he asked the boy why he pressed the lift button for the 13th storey when he did not live on that level.

Said SIO Fareed: "I did not tell him he was not telling the truth. Instead, I explained the purpose of the interview is to find truth, and I left him to think again about what he wants to say about what happened that day."

When SIO Fareed returned 20 minutes later, Benjamin told him what was later recorded in the statement without prompting.

The officer had interviewed the girl the previous day.

After the incident, she had run home to call her father immediately.

Her father rushed home and took her to Yishun North Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) to make a police report.

Said SIO Fareed: "Her father was very distressed and informed me that his daughter had been crying when she spoke to him over the phone."

When asked by State Counsel Wong Woon Kwong about the demeanour of the girl at the NPC, he said she appeared to be calm but upset.

Benjamin's family lawyer, Mr Remy Choo Zheng Xi, protested at the relevance of Mr Wong's query as the coroner's inquiry was not a criminal trial.

Said Mr Choo: "As to the demeanour of the girl, I can see how Benjamin's demeanour is relevant insofar as to his death, but I am not quite sure how the demeanour of girl is relevant."

Mr Wong replied: "To be clear, the purpose is to set the background, in particular how the girl in question and how the family reacted.

"This is necessary to set the context to how the police responded that day and day after."

The identities of the girl and Benjamin's family have been withheld due to a gag order.

The coroner's inquiry has been adjourned to a later date.

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