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Their emotional bond turns sexual

Man, 47, jailed 3 years for incest with daughter, 23. -TNP

Thu, Feb 03, 2011
The New Paper

By Vivien Chan

SHE was his firstborn and he had always been close to her.

When she grew older, the teenager even accompanied her father to drinking sessions with his friends at coffee shops.

Their relationship soon took an intimate turn when father and daughter began hugging and kissing in 2006, when the girl was only 18.

Over time, they progressed to touching and fondling each other's private parts when they were alone in the family flat.

Two years later, father and daughter ended up having sex in the master bedroom.

The 47-year old plumber was yesterday jailed three years for committing incest.

It is believed to be the first court case of consensual sex between father and daughter here.

In Singapore, incest is a crime punishable by up to five years' jail.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Leong Wing Tuck yesterday said the girl, the oldest of four siblings, shared the master bedroom with her parents, sleeping on a mattress next to the bed.

In 2006, the drinking sessions brought father and daughter "emotionally closer" as they spent more time together.

The closeness soon "developed into a sexual relationship".

Sometime in early 2008, the girl confided in a friend that her father had been sexually touching her and she did not like it.

One night in April that year, she returned home with her father after a beer-drinking session at a coffee shop.

The man's wife, a coffee-shop helper, was not at home.

At about 11.30pm, the man was lying on the bed in the master bedroom while the girl was at the edge of the bed, checking her e-mails on her laptop.

The two got into a small argument after the father wanted to talk to her but felt that she did not want to. Eventually, the girl apologised.

Her father asked for a hug and she went over and hugged him. Things progressed quickly and they had sex that night.

Read also:
» First woman here charged with incest
» Incest discovered when woman told friend about encounter

Afterwards, the girl became afraid that she would get pregnant. Her father then apologised to her and said he did not ejaculate inside her.

The matter came to light about a week later after father and daughter had another argument at the girl's godmother's home.

He felt she had been disrespectful by talking back to him. She had wanted to pursue part-time studies, but he wanted her to carry on with her full-time studies.

After they returned to the flat that evening, their argument became so heated that the girl sent an SMS to the friend she had previously confided in.

Calling the police

In the SMS, she asked her friend to call the police and the friend made a 999 call on her behalf.

When officers arrived, the girl said that her father had molested her and he was arrested.

The man's lawyer, Mr Mervyn Tan, said in mitigation yesterday that the man's wife has just filed for divorce.

Mr Tan said that on the night of the incident, the man was feeling "tipsy" and both parties had consumed alcohol with two friends for more than four hours.

He said: "In this state of mind, both parties were reckless and it was in this particular frame of mind that the accused had committed the offence in question.

"Although the accused was of sound mind, his actions were reckless by reason of his consumption of alcohol," said Mr Tan.

He added that the man had always cherished how his daughter was close to him and used to confide in him.

"He is very regretful and ashamed at what he has done... he is now relying on his brothers to help him," the lawyer added.

Urging the court to "show as much compassion" as possible "because life has to go on for him and his family", Mr Tan pointed out that no violence was used in the incestuous act.

In sentencing him to three years' jail, District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim noted that although the daughter was "not very young", she was still below 21 at that time.

While taking into account that it was his first offence and that he pleaded guilty, she said that it was a "very serious offence", one that society does not condone.

The daughter, now 23, is expected to be re-charged in court soon.

Last September, the technical executive was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal because her father was nowhere to be found.

Both parties were supposed to appear in court to face their charge, but her father had left the country.

A warrant of arrest was issued for him and he was arrested at Changi Airport on Oct 21 last year, after seven months on the run.

>> Next: The man's elder brother...

The man's elder brother and elder son were in court to support him yesterday.

When approached outside court, the son, 21, said he was "very sad" that his father is going to jail.

His sister is no longer living with the family.

"I don't know what she is doing and where she is," he said.

When asked if he was angry with his father, he would only say: "No matter what, when he comes out, he's still my father."

For incest, the man could have been jailed five years.


Moral vs legal issues

IN SINGAPORE, incest - defined as having sex with one's grandchild, child, sibling, half-sibling, parent or grandparent - is a crime punishable by up to five years' jail.

Does it mean then that a sexual relationship with a family member besides those listed is not prohibited?

Yes, said lawyer Kertar Singh, though such sexual relations are socially and morally unacceptable.

Incest is determined "by virtue of the relationship", said Mr Singh.

He added: "Once it falls outside the relationship prescribed by law, it is not an offence. It may be morally wrong, but it may not be wrong in the law."

The law also states clearly that there must be sexual penetration before the offence of incest is invoked.

That means that if a father and daughter fondle each other consensually, it may be morally wrong, but it is not legally prohibited, Mr Singh said.

Consent, of course, is also essential. Without consent, the man will most likely be charged with rape, which carries a stiffer penalty.


Bulk of blame goes to dad: Psychiatrist

HOW did the parent-child relationship end up incestuous without anyone noticing?

A consultant psychiatrist in private practice, Dr Brian Yeo, told The New Paper that whatever the reasons, the father should take the bulk of the responsibility as he is more mature.

Describing the sleeping arrangement as "unusual", Dr Yeo said: "Why is it that only one child out of four is sleeping with the parents? Why not have the daughters sleep together?"

He added: "She is sleeping in the same bedroom as her parents and therefore the 'closeness' could have already crossed the 'line'.

"There's a sense of closeness and bonding and they are physically close in the small bedroom - even with the mother present in the bedroom."

Another reason could be that the girl somehow took over the role of the mother, said Dr Yeo. With the daughter sharing her parents' bedroom, it was unlikely her parents were actively and sexually intimate.

"Obviously, (the parents) can't get too intimate, and the girl got too close to the father. They probably quite easily crossed the line because of the opportunities that afforded," he said.

It was revealed in court that the two had sex in the master bedroom when the man's wife was not at home.

But the fact that the girl was 18 when she started getting intimate with her father shows that she was also aware and culpable, said Dr Yeo.

"However, the father must still take the bulk of the responsibility. Being the father, if he commands his daughter to follow him, she may feel a sense of obligation, maybe even some fear that if she doesn't, she could break up the family," he added.

Warning signals

How could the mother not pick up any warning signals over the years?

Dr Yeo said: "For this to happen with the mother not being aware, it is obvious that the daughter did not share things with her mother; she did not feel comfortable enough to speak with her.

"For the siblings not to be aware, it's also obvious she was not close to her siblings."

He added: "The girl could also have been quite blase about it and the father did not show or do anything inappropriate in the presence of the mother."

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This article was first published in The New Paper.

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