SINGAPORE - A cleaner who is intellectually disabled was jailed 18 months yesterday for molesting an eight-year-old girl in a toilet at his workplace.
However, Mohd Nizam Mohd Nor, 45, was spared caning because of his condition.
The incident occurred at a special needs association where the girl was studying.
On Jan 14, after she was dropped off by her mother, the girl went to the toilet before attending a 2.30pm class.
According to court documents, she did not lock the cubicle door properly as she was in a rush to use the facilities.
At the time, Mohd Nizam had just finished washing the toilet. He entered the cubicle and found the girl with her pants pulled down to her knees.
He placed a finger to his lips to tell the girl to keep quiet.
He then used a toilet spray on her private parts and used his other hand to touch her there "in a wiping motion", according to the statement of facts.
He then pulled off her pants completely and repeated the act, which "caused discomfort" to the girl. She later told her teacher, and her mother lodged a police report.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Siti Adrianni Marhain pushed for a jail sentence, saying that the victim was in a school-like environment, and that the accused had made "repeated intrusions on her private parts".
However, defence counsel Louis Joseph pleaded for leniency, given Mohd Nizam's clinically certified "mild intellectual disability", citing medical reports from the Institute of Mental Health.
The bachelor, who was living with an elder sister who takes care of his basic needs, was also exempted from serving national service and studied in a special needs school as a child due to his psychiatric condition.
In jailing him for 1½ years, District Judge Ng Peng Hong said that the offence was very serious and that "these kinds of actions cannot be condoned".
But the judge found caning inappropriate, given the accused's mental condition.
For outrage of modesty of a minor under 14 years old, Mohd Nizam could have been jailed for up to five years, fined and caned.
The girl and the association cannot be named to protect her identity.
This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.
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