Judge imposes 'proportionate and not crushing' punishment in sex crimes case.
A rapist who targeted at least two underage girls had his sentence reduced by an appeal court in November last year.
In a judgement released yesterday, Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin ordered that Hang Tuah Jumaat's sentence for a series of offences including sexual penetration of a minor be reduced to two years' jail, instead of four years and 11 months as originally ordered by a lower court.
But instead of having it run together with an earlier 12-year jail term for rape, which meant that Hang Tuah's time in prison would remain the same, the appeal judge ordered that this reduced sentence begin after the sentence for the rape has been completed.
This means that Hang Tuah, now 44, will spend 14 years in prison instead.
He will also still receive 15 strokes of the cane - 12 strokes for rape, and three strokes for sexual penetration of a minor.
Following a rape conviction in 2012, Hang Tuah faced, in a separate batch of cases, another 16 charges for sex and driving offences, including one of sexual penetration of a minor.
Court documents show that Hang Tuah had met the 14-year-old girl on Oct 7, 2009, at a corridor near her home in Boon Lay.
He accused her of sniffing glue, but she denied it.
Hang Tuah, a truck driver for a moving company, then carried her up a flight of stairs to an eighth storey staircase landing where he forced himself on her.
He claimed trial to the offence.
During court proceedings in April last year, Hang Tuah, who did not have a lawyer, denied having sex with the victim.
The girl, who cannot be named, was made to relive the ordeal when she was called to testify in court.
On May 29, 2015, after his rape conviction, Hang Tuah was convicted of this other sex offence, and also pleaded guilty to four charges of driving without a valid licence and one charge of possession of obscene videos.
He was sentenced to four years and 11 months' jail, and three strokes of the cane.
Another four charges of driving without a licence were taken into consideration during sentencing, while another eight charges of sexual offences were withdrawn.
The District Judge had then ordered that Hang Tuah's jail term run together with his earlier jail term for rape.
But the prosecution appealed against the sentence because it meant the punishment for sexual penetration of a minor was inconsequential.
Instead, they asked that the four years and 11 months' jail term start after he finished serving the rape sentence, bringing his total jail time to 16 years and 11 months.
Wrote Justice Chao in his judgement yesterday: "I declined to enhance the overall sentence imposed on (Hang Tuah) to 16 years and 11 months as that would, in my view, be a crushing sentence.
"Therefore, although I ordered the further term of imprisonment to start at the end of the existing 12 year imprisonment sentence, I reduced it from four years and 11 months to two years."
During the appeal hearing, Hang Tuah's mother was also in court to plead for leniency on behalf of her son.
Referring to her, Justice Chao continued: "While I understood her sentiments perfectly in wanting her son to be released from prison as soon as possible, I had a duty, in the public interest, to ensure that a just sentence was meted out."
He noted that the offences in this case happened in a separate incident, which largely merits a second jail term, but added that he still had to ensure the overall sentence be "proportionate and not crushing".
"It was apparent to me that the overall sentence sought by the prosecution of 16 years and 11 months' imprisonment was excessive, and in my view, an aggregate sentence of 14 years' imprisonment was appropriate," Justice Chao said.
This article was first published on Feb 23, 2016.
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