A cemetery labourer who raped a homeless 12-year-old girl staying at the burial ground with her family was sentenced to 15 years' jail and the maximum 24 strokes of the cane yesterday.
Roslan Jaafar, 42, had pleaded guilty in April to two counts of statutory rape and one count of sexual assault of a minor.
Yesterday, his lawyer, Mr Subir Singh Grewal, appointed under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, asked for a jail term of 10 years.
He noted that Roslan had not intentionally sought the girl for sex and believed she was sexually experienced when in fact she was not.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Quek Jing Feng, however, argued for a deterrent sentence of 10 to 15 years, pointing to the 26-year age gap between Roslan and the girl.
Two other counts of sexual assault of a minor and sexual exploitation of a child were taken into consideration during sentencing.
Roslan has a son and three daughters from a marriage which ended in divorce in 2006. He has lost contact with his ex-wife and daughters and looks after his son.
In March 2012, his son, who was then eight, started playing with the victim and her younger sister at the cemetery while Roslan was working. At the time, the girl's family had no fixed abode and lived temporarily in a tent at the burial site.
After introducing himself to the girls' mother, he visited the family regularly and grew close to them.
In May, Roslan began to take her out regularly to run errands, usually for more than two hours each time.
He would take her on his motorcycle to a quiet spot nearby at night.
He had sex with her on a bench on two occasions and sexually violated her on three other occasions .
He told the girl not to tell her mother about it.
Although the girl consented to having sex with him, by law, sex with a girl under 14, with or without her consent, is considered rape.
On June 1 that year, the girl's maternal uncle was visiting the family when Roslan took her out.
When they did not return after more than two hours, the uncle became worried.
He searched for Roslan's number on the girl's phone and found text messages from him.
After the girl returned, the uncle confronted her with the messages. She broke down and told him what had happened.
A police report was made at the Nanyang Neighbourhood Police Centre and Roslan was arrested last year.
The girl's family is no longer staying at the cemetery.
The maximum jail term on each charge of rape and sexual assault is 20 years.
This article was first published on Aug 25, 2015. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.