Man who 'raped' 12-year-old in car: Police say swabs taken at wrong place

Man who 'raped' 12-year-old in car: Police say swabs taken at wrong place
Crane operator Lee Seow Peng is facing trial for one count each of rape, sexual grooming and attempting to procure the commission of an indecent act by an underage girl.
PHOTO: The New Paper

The minor had alleged that she had been raped in the back seat of the multi-purpose vehicle (MPV).

But that was not where investigators swabbed for evidence.

Calling it an "oversight", investigation officer (IO) Station Inspector Colin Ng told the court yesterday that he had instead asked his colleagues to swab the front passenger seat of the MPV belonging to alleged rapist Lee Seow Peng.

Station Insp Ng also told Judicial Commissioner Hoo Sheau Peng that the swabs had not been sent for analysis at the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

It was the fifth day of the 39-year-old crane operator's trial.

Lee, who is not represented by a lawyer, then asked the IO if it was "normal" for him to "overlook such things".

Speaking from the witness stand, Station Insp Ng said that it was "common".

He added: "(With) the amount of work that we do, we will probably overlook issues."

Lee is accused of one count each of rape, sexually grooming a minor and attempting to procure the commission of an indecent act by the child.

He allegedly committed these offences in May and June 2012.

Yesterday, the court heard that the then-12-year-old girl had said in her police statement on June 5 that year that Lee had raped her in the rear seat of his MPV.

Senior Staff Sergeant Sunny Low, who also took the stand, said that acting on instructions from the IO, he swabbed only the front passenger seat at around 3.30pm the next day. He then gave the swabs to Station Insp Ng.

Senior Staff Sgt Low told the court that he took no swabs from the rear seat.

Station Insp Ng testified yesterday that he realised his "oversight" about an hour later, shortly before he interviewed Lee that day. However, it was not mentioned in court why swabs were not taken from the rear seat afterwards.

On Tuesday, Station Insp Ng had testified that no swabs were taken from Lee's MPV.

But yesterday morning, he admitted that the swabs had been taken.

He said he remembered them that morning after seeing a document - known as a case register - prepared by the Forensic Management Branch of the police force.

MISPLACED

When queried by Deputy Public Prosecutor Jasmine Chin-Sabado, he said that he currently did not know where the swabs were - they could be misplaced or in his office.

When the judge asked him why, back in 2012, he did not send the swabs for analysis, he replied that he saw "no relevance" to do so as they had been taken from the front seat.

He added that he would have had them analysed if they had been taken from the rear seat.

Station Insp Ng was later directed to return to his office to look for the swabs, and he produced them in court when he returned at around 2.30pm yesterday.

He told the court that he found them in his personal cupboard and only he has the key to it.

However, the judge said that she would not be allowing further time for analysis to be done on the swabs.

She said: "The relevance, if anything is found, is minimum... Whatever outcome will impact very little."

The trial resumes on Monday.

ABOUT THE CASE

Lee Seow Peng is accused of raping a 12-year-old girl three days after meeting her through a mobile phone messaging app.

The crane operator, now 39, first met the then-Secondary 1 student on a social networking portal on May 26, 2012.

He used Lucifer as his moniker.

They met three days later and he drove her to a carpark at the Chinese Garden in Jurong, where he allegedly had non-consensual sexual intercourse with her in the backseat of his MPV.

On June 3 that year, Lee allegedly attempted to arrange another meeting with the girl with the intention of having sex with her again.

Her mother discovered his message and the girl then told her about the alleged rape.

The girl's parents made a police report soon after this.

Last Wednesday, Lee pleaded not guilty to one count each of rape, sexually grooming a minor and attempting to get the girl to perform an indecent act.

If found guilty of rape, Lee can be jailed up to 20 years and given at least 12 strokes of the cane.

If convicted of sexually grooming a girl under 16, he can be jailed up to three years and fined.

If found guilty of attempting to procure the commission of an indecent act by the young girl, he can be jailed up to five years and fined up to $10,000.


This article was first published on Dec 24, 2015.
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