Singapore

Construction worker gets 17 years' jail for rape

This is the first case to fall under a new framework for sentencing rapists

Bangladeshi Pramanik Liton was yesterday convicted and sentenced to 17 years and 24 strokes of the cane for abducting and raping a woman at knife-point in broad daylight at MacRitchie Reservoir.

Justice Choo Han Teck found the 24-year-old construction worker guilty of two counts of aggravated rape, one count of sexual assault by penetration, and one count of abduction for illicit intercourse.

His was the first case to fall under a new framework for sentencing rapists, which was spelt out by the apex court last week.

The framework sets out three sentencing bands, corresponding to the severity of the rape and the various aggravating factors.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Stella Tan noted that Liton's offences would come under Band 2, where there are two or more aggravating factors.

This band carries a sentencing range of 13 to 17 years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane.

"Taking into consideration Terence Ng and the prosecution's sentencing submissions, I am of the view that the global sentence should reflect the seriousness of the offences," Justice Choo said.

The previous framework had divided rapes into four categories: those with no aggravating or mitigating factors; those with specific aggravating factors; multiple rapes; and those committed by offenders who will remain a threat to society.

However, the four categories did not cover the full spectrum of circumstances in which rape may be committed, the apex court had said.

DPP Tan, in asking for a total sentence of at least 20 years and 24 strokes, listed six aggravating factors specific to the offences.

SIGNIFICANT PAIN

It included how Liton had further violated the victim, a 39-year-old Chinese national, to get rid of any semen, as he was afraid she would get pregnant.

This had caused the victim significant pain and left her deeply scarred, she said.

Delivering his verdict after a three-day trial, Justice Choo said that the victim's evidence had been "clear, cogent and consistent", while Liton's evidence was "bizarre and incomprehensible".

In an unusual turn on Thursday, Liton had told the court that he did not have sex with the victim because she had died from fear.

This despite the fact that the victim is alive and had testified that Liton had attacked her.

He was in court when she took the stand.

Addressing Liton, Justice Choo said: "Clearly she had not or this would have been the world's first supernatural trial. I see nothing supernatural, only a traumatised woman who has convinced me that you committed the offences upon which you are being tried."

Liton's sentence will be backdated to his arrest.

For each charge of aggravated rape, he could have been sentenced to between eight and 20 years' jail and at least 12 strokes of the cane.

Speaking of the new framework, criminal lawyer Sunil Sudheesan said it allows the court more flexibility to consider the specific facts of a case in sentencing. "My sense is that punishments may now go up, as cases of rape in the lowest category can now get up to 13 years," he said.

In the old framework, the benchmark for the lowest end of the spectrum of rape was set at 10 years.

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