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Boys in gang sex assault got lenient sentence

Defence lawyers: She did not ask to be attacked, but the victim in a gang rape case here wasn't completely blameless for what happened. -TNP

Mon, Aug 16, 2010
The New Paper

SHE did not ask to be attacked, but the victim in a gang rape case here wasn't completely blameless for what happened.

Yesterday, defence lawyers described how the victim drank alcohol voluntarily, gave a massage to one of the boys who attacked her and entered the bedroom voluntarily.

Muhammad Shafie Ahmad Abdullah, 19, Mohd Sadruddin Azman, 20, Lim Boon Tai, 21, Rishi Mohan, 18, and Mohamed Firdaus Roslan, 19, had earlier pleaded guilty to aggravated outrage of modesty.

They had gathered at Shafie's flat in Woodlands while his parents were out on Dec 25, 2008.

The boys, who wanted female company, called the girl and invited her over.

At the flat, she played drinking games with the boys and drank more than five cups of vodka cocktail.

She had consensual sex with Lim. Later, at about 4am on Dec 26, Lim and the others sexually assaulted her when she went to a bedroom to rest.

Girl's actions

Lawyer Darius Chan, acting for Shafie, said: "I'm not suggesting that she had asked for this to happen to her, but she had gone to the flat even though it was close to midnight and she had no idea who she was meeting."

He described how, after she had consensual sex with Lim in the room, she did not leave or show displeasure.

She even massaged one of the boys, he added.

Mr Anand Nalachandran, acting for Mohamed Firdaus, said: "The behaviour of the victim was also unusual. She acted in certain ways. It is not fair to ignore what she has done.

"Her conduct, her actions did create a certain impression on the minds of the accused persons. We cannot ignore this."

In their mitigation pleas, the boys' lawyers painted pictures of them as law-abiding citizens who had committed the offences in a moment of folly.

Mr Chan described Shafie as an average boy next door who had a clean record and was earning an honest living as a waiter.

Urging the court to consider Shafie for probation, Mr Chan added: "He is far from a marauding monster. He is well-liked by his teachers and peers, humorous and willing to go the extra mile for his friends."

Mr Peter Ong, who represented Sadruddin, said his client had regretted his folly and had cooperated with the police early in the investigation.

On behalf of Lim, Mr Ramesh Tiwary told the court that minimal force was used on the victim, and that Lim had put the victim in a taxi to go home and given her money for the fare.

Rishi's lawyer, Mr Adrian Wee, recounted an incident when his client befriended a schoolmate who had started sniffing glue and hanging out with gang members.

He said: "He befriended his schoolmate and kept him out of trouble, advising him to stay on the right path. My client has inherently good character and understands the difference between right and wrong... He is not incapable of reform."

But DPP Christina Koh responded by saying that the boys "displayed debauched behaviour beyond their years".

They had got the victim to the flat by lying to her, they had intoxicated her with alcohol, and Lim had also taken advantage of his familiarity with her to persuade her to go into the bedroom when he knew the rest wanted to have sex with her there.

Calling the offences "repugnant", Ms Koh asked the court to impose a sentence of at least three years' jail as well as caning to communicate society's aversion to the acts committed by the group against an intoxicated and defenceless teenage girl.

Justice Chan Seng Onn sentenced the youths to between three and five years' jail, and caning. He said the extremely serious nature of the offences committed against the young girl did not warrant reformative training or probation.

"The victim was wrongfully restrained while being (sexually assaulted) by the five persons in turn. This was a gang sex assault of a grave nature, of which the accused persons had perpetrated without her consent.

"If not for their relative youth, I would have meted sentences closer to the top end of 10 years. I am more lenient with the accused persons than I would otherwise be. They should count themselves lucky."

When the boys heard this, they remained expressionless. They broke down only when they spoke to their family members, who were in court yesterday.

For aggravated outrage of modesty, they could have been jailed up to 10 years and caned.


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This article was first published in The New Paper.

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