A 24-year-old man who had sex with a 14-year-old student he met through a homosexual dating application was yesterday sentenced to 12 months in jail.
Suhaimi Shamsudin, who is appealing against the sentence, had pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual penetration of a minor - each of which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years' jail and a fine.
His lawyer Chia Boon Teck had sought probation or a short jail term for the first-time offender, saying he was remorseful.
But District Judge Mathew Joseph said he found it disturbing that he went to meet the student despite being told he was just 14.
"Your subsequent sexual acts with the victim were therefore the conscious and calculated decisions of a mature adult."
The Nanyang Technological University student was 23 when he and the minor befriended each other on Grindr - a mobile application for male homosexuals - in early October 2012. During their texting and chatting, the minor told Suhaimi he was 14.
A week later, the minor suggested they meet in person. Suhaimi agreed, and they did so at Block 484 Admiralty Link. There, the duo had oral sex on the 15th-floor staircase landing.
They met a second time that month, this time at another HDB block near the minor's school.
The incidents came to light after the minor, uneasy about his sexual inclination and experiences, confided in a police officer whom he had befriended.
He reported to the police last Jan 3 that he had engaged in "unnatural sex with two male subjects" between October and December 2012.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz said by engaging in sex with a young, impressionable and misguided minor, Suhaimi had only himself to blame. She also pointed out the gender of the minor was not relevant in such cases as the law does not draw a distinction.
"Persons who exploit a male minor will and must, regardless of whether the act was consensual, expect to be prosecuted and sentenced just as those who exploit a female minor," she said.
The judge told Suhaimi, who has six other charges considered during sentencing, that this was not the end for him.
"You will have challenges going forward, but with determination and the right attitude, you can overcome them. You owe it to yourself and your family to at least try to overcome these challenges and move on in life."
This article was published on April 10 in The Straits Times.
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