SINGAPORE - A private-hire driver with grandchildren of his own repeatedly molested the young child of his daughter's neighbour in 2016 to satisfy his own sexual urges, a district court heard on Friday (March 27).
The victim, who was between 10 and 11 years old at the time, suffered in silence as she did not know how to seek help.
She also feared that her mother would not believe her if she opened up about her ordeal.
The child finally broke her silence to a social worker in 2017 after both her parents were sent to jail for reasons not stated in court documents. The social worker then accompanied her to make a police report in September that year.
The 69-year-old man was sentenced on Friday (March 27) to three years, three months and 12 weeks' jail after pleading guilty to three counts of outraging the girl's modesty.
Four other charges, mainly involving molestation of the same child, were considered during sentencing. He cannot be named due to a gag order imposed to protect the victim's identity.
The court heard that the man's daughter and the victim's mother were neighbours.
Starting in 2011, the perpetrator's daughter often helped out by picking up the victim from school. The woman would also keep an eye on the girl and her own children. Over time, the girl grew close to the offender's family.
The man would look after the children when his daughter was busy, the court heard.
The victim was at his daughter's flat when he first molested her in a bathroom in March 2016.
Sometime between March and December that year, the girl was at the man's flat with his grandchildren when he molested her two more times.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana told District Judge Christopher Goh: "Through all three incidents... the victim remained silent as she feared the accused and did not dare confront him. She did not confide in anyone about the incidents until her interview with her social worker."
The DPP also urged the judge to sentence the man to at least 40 months and 18 weeks' jail, adding: "Sex crimes committed against children are among the most heinous...Such offending conduct by a person in authority cannot be condoned."
The man was represented by lawyers Ferlin Jayatissa and Lum Guo Rong from Lexcompass law firm.
The lawyers, who pleaded for a three-year jail term, told the court that their client has "no paedophilic disorder" and was "deeply sorry" for what he had done.
Stressing that he is "not a threat to the public", they also said that he went through a heart bypass surgery in 2018 and is currently on medication.
For each count of molesting a child below 14 years old, an offender can be jailed for up to five years and fined or caned. The man cannot be caned as he is over 50 years old.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.