He was diagnosed with mild retardation and had been in and out of prison five times for molesting women on public transport.
Yesterday, Francis Anthiraya, 49, was back in court for his sixth offence. He was jailed a year for molesting a 46-year-old woman while she was asleep on a bus.
His family had managed to keep him out of trouble for nearly 10 years since he was jailed for 15 months and given four strokes of the cane for touching a woman in the hip area on a train in 2004.
His youngest sister, who wanted to be known only as Madam Maha, told the court she did not know why Francis had re-offended again.
"The family has been doing our best to keep him away from trouble... but somehow this has happened again," the 45-year-old retail manager said, teary-eyed. She spoke on behalf of her brother in court as he was unable to defend himself.
On July 22, Francis, who was working as a cleaner, boarded bus service 255 at Boon Lay and sat beside his victim on the upper deck. The woman, who cannot be named as she is a molest victim, fell asleep and woke up to find his left hand on her stomach area.
She shouted "excuse me" and stood up. A few minutes later, she went to the lower deck.
She called the police after seeing Francis alight in the Benoi sector on Pioneer Road.
Francis was jailed for 10 months and given three strokes of the cane for molesting a woman on a bus in 2001.
He also had convictions dating back to the early 90s for performing obscene acts in public, said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Michelle Lu. She called for a deterrent sentence as Francis "has the propensity to commit offences on public transport".
When asked for his mitigation plea, Francis said in Tamil: "I realised my mistake. I apologise for what I have done. I will not do it again." Madam Maha pleaded for compassion and leniency for her brother.
District Judge Lim Tse Haw said he had considered the accused's mental condition, but said he had to impose a jail term "to protect members of the public taking public transport".
He said: "If the family cannot supervise him, the court has no choice but to impose a deterrent sentence. I appreciate the efforts to keep him out of trouble, but obviously, in this case, it's not adequate."
After the hearing, Madam Maha told The New Paper: "He has a low IQ and he doesn't know what he is doing. As a family, we've always been worried about him. His inhibitions are lower and he's unable to control his lust.
"We have tried so many things to divert his attention (from his urges), such as going to the temple, performing prayers, doing the housework. But we don't know what to make of him now. "
Francis' older sister, who wanted to be known only as Ms Mary, said the family will seek professional help to prevent Francis from re-offending after his release. "We want to take him to the Institute of Mental Health to figure out how to take care of him," she said.
For outrage of modesty, Francis could have been jailed up to two years and caned.
HE NEEDS PROFESSIONAL HELP
Francis Anthiraya's family should seek help to stop him from molesting again, two psychiatrists said yesterday.
Dr Adrian Wang, a consultant psychiatrist at Gleneagles Medical Centre, said that those with mild mental retardation would have difficulty controlling their impulses. He said they were prone to judgment errors because they were not able to think clearly about consequences.
While a jail term will remind Francis that he can be punished, he will still have a propensity to re-offend, Dr Wang said.
"A multiple-pronged approach is required", he said.
"The most important thing is social support, such as financial help, support groups or social service to remind them (about the consequences) of committing a crime."
Dr Brian Yeo, consultant psychiatrist at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, said a last resort could be the use of medicine to control the patient's sexual urges. "It would reduce his testosterone level, but it would not treat the root of the problem," he said.
He highlighted the importance of sex education, which may be awkward for families to talk about.
Someone like Francis would also benefit from living in a supervised home, whose staff would be able to address his urges, said Dr Yeo.
Both psychiatrists agreed that professional help would be important for his recovery.
"The prison term would protect the public from him, but it is for his own sake in the long term to seek professional advice," said Dr Yeo.
This article was first published on September 04, 2014.
Get The New Paper for more stories.