Singapore

Judge: Prison officer destroyed inmate's life

Prison officer jailed 27 months for molesting male inmate

It was his duty to help rehabilitate prison inmates.

But instead of doing that, a prison officer of 27 years, Mohamed Faris Osman, "destroyed" an inmate's life when he repeatedly molested him at Admiralty West Prison last year.

District Judge May Mesenas said that yesterday in sentencing Faris, 47, to two years and three months in jail.

Faris, who is married with three children, was convicted on nine counts of outrage of modesty on June 24 after an eight-day trial.

In her oral grounds on sentencing, Judge Mesenas highlighted how the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) has prided itself on its tagline: Captains Of Lives.

She said prison officers aspire to make a difference in the lives of inmates by being fair yet firm in their treatment. They also carry themselves as role models for the inmates under their charge.

She added: "The accused in this case, however, failed to live up to these core values."

The SPS sergeant had molested his victim, a 20-year-old Chinese national, between July and October last year.

In her submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Koh said Faris, a logistics officer, had been assigned to supervise inmates in an Internal Working Party every day.

The team of about five men performed maintenance and cleaning work in the prison. His victim, who was jailed from April 16 to Nov 26 last year, was one of them.

Faris started by stroking the young man's arm last July while making a moaning sound.

He grabbed the inmate's buttocks the following month.

By Oct 16, he had progressed to squeezing the private parts.

The offences came to light when Rehabilitation Officer (RO) Jayrius Tan Yee Boon noticed the inmate looking depressed later that day.

After the inmate told RO Tan about his ordeal, the officer e-mailed the prison superintendent and made a police report on Oct 22.

Yesterday, Judge Mesenas noted that the victim was relatively young.

"Being a prison inmate, who was, 'cabined, cribbed and confined', he was clearly vulnerable as he was unable to retaliate whenever the accused molested him, for fear of reprisal," she said.

AFRAID

"In fact, the victim was advised by other fellow inmates to not confront or complain to the prison officers about anything or risk having his sentence being 'increased'," added Judge Mesenas.

She also stressed that Faris was a civil servant in the SPS, and "should therefore be held to higher standard than the ordinary man in the street".

The judge said: "A more severe punishment was warranted to emphasise the court's as well as society's disapproval and abhorrence of his actions, which had the effect of bringing a key public institution like the prisons into disrepute."

When contacted, the SPS told The New Paper it took a serious view of any acts of misconduct by its officers.

Its spokesman added: "Following his conviction in court, we will commence civil service disciplinary proceedings against him, with a view towards his dismissal."

For each count of outrage of modesty, Faris could have been jailed up to two years, fined, and caned, or any combination of the penalties.

Being a prison inmate, who was, 'cabined, cribbed and confined', he was clearly vulnerable as he was unable to retaliate whenever the accused molested him, for fear of reprisal.

- District Judge May Mesenas on the victim of prison officer Mohamed Faris Osman

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