Early one morning two years ago, in a Paya Lebar housing estate, a 25-year-old kitchen worker hatched a plan to rob a woman he spotted walking home from work.
Chang Kar Meng crept up behind the 33-year-old waitress as she waited for the lift at her block, knocked her senseless with a neck chop he learnt from the movies, and robbed her.
He then dragged her to a secluded grass patch where he raped her and took photos of her bare breasts, before and after he violated her, as well as of her clothed body later.
Yesterday, Chang, now 27, was sentenced to 17 years' jail and the maximum 24 strokes of the cane after he pleaded guilty to committing rape and robbery with hurt at about 1.30am on March 8, 2013.
The court heard that the woman, a foreigner married to a Singaporean, left work at about 1.15am and took a taxi home. Chang, who was short of money, decided to rob her after he saw that there was no one around the lift lobby.
The Malaysian sneaked up to her, covered her mouth with his left hand and hit the back of her neck with his right hand. After a few blows, she passed out.
Just as he was about to drag her away, the lift doors opened. Chang lowered his head to prevent his face from being captured by the surveillance camera inside. He dragged her to the side and took her phone, sling bag and jewellery. He then dragged her 13m to a grass patch, where he took photos of her bare breasts, fondled her and raped her.
During the sexual assault, the woman had come to but pretended to remain unconscious out of fear that he would hurt her. He then took more photos of her breasts and dressed her.
He put her work permit, prayer card and house key into her pocket before walking away with her bag. She was about to get away but he returned, so she lay back down on the grass. He then carried her to a staircase landing, laid her on a mattress and took a photo of her. After he left, the woman went home. Her husband then called the police.
Chang's DNA was found on the woman's body and clothes. He was arrested 5½ months later at the rental flat he shared with his girlfriend. The court heard that a large number of women's underwear was seized from him.
Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Zhong Zewei cited rape statistics as he argued that a deterrent sentence was warranted.
Between 2012 and last year, the number of reported rapes rose from 133 to 163, although there was a slight dip in 2013.
Chang's brazen crimes in an HDB estate have shaken the assurance that people can walk home safely at night, said the DPP.
Chang's lawyer, Mr Sunil Sudheesan, argued that his client was sincerely remorseful for his actions, which were totally out of character. He also noted that crime statistics did not take into account population growth.
This article was first published on May 29, 2015.
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