Sex predator dumped girl, 13, then had sex with her twin
Man gets 20½ years and 24 strokes for statutory rape and other offences
Soon after meeting a girl on Facebook, he asked her to be his girlfriend and then to send him pictures of her naked body.
She was just 13 years old. But that did not stop Benjamin Sim Wei Liang from kissing and hugging her and touching her breasts in a taxi in December 2012.
The security officer then dumped her for her younger twin sister, with whom he went on to have sexual relations.
In just two months, he had committed sexual offences against the twins and two more underage girls.
Most of the sex acts occurred in public places such as handicapped toilets, staircase landings, a bus and taxis.
The slim, boyish-looking Sim, 30, was yesterday jailed for 20½ years and given the maximum 24 strokes of the cane.
He pleaded guilty to a total of eight charges, including three counts of sexually penetrating a minor, two counts of statutory rape and one count each of performing an indecent act on a child and being in possession of a film without a valid licence.
The sexual predator also admitted to one count of procuring an obscene act performed by a child when he asked the older twin to snap nude pictures of herself and send them to him.
Fifteen other charges, including his indecent acts with the older twin, were taken into consideration during sentencing.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Zhong Zewei said that Sim had "trawled the Internet for young girls". He met his victims on Facebook.
DPP Zhong added: "Having made contact, he used them to fulfil his sexual needs, without thought to their emotional well-being."
Using the pseudonym "Peter Tan", Sim met the older twin in November 2012.
Later that month, he pressed her to send him naked pictures of herself and she sent him two explicit shots.
DPP Zhong told Justice Tay Yong Kwang that Sim deleted the pictures after viewing them.
The couple met about four times and he bought the girl items including a Samsung mobile phone that cost about $100.
On Nov 15, she told her younger twin about Sim and the latter added him as a friend on Facebook. She also agreed to be his girlfriend.
He broke up with the older twin.
DPP Zhong said that by ditching one girl for her twin, Sim had "in effect been playing the sisters off against each other". (See report below.)
Sim later met the younger twin at Bukit Panjang Plaza, where he sexually penetrated her at a staircase landing.
They met again at Choa Chu Kang MRT station at around 2.30pm on Dec 10 and they took a taxi to his apartment at Euro-Asia Park condominium at Woodleigh Close, near Potong Pasir.
His parents and two brothers were not home and he took her to his bedroom, where he asked her to perform oral sex on him.
He then slipped on a condom and they had sex.
The younger twin also received gifts from Sim, including a Samsung Galaxy mobile phone.
Sometime in late 2012, he came across the Facebook profile of his third victim, who was 13, and befriended her.
DPP Zhong said: "During (their) chats, the accused asked the third victim about her height, weight, waistline and breast size, whether she was still a virgin and whether she wanted to have sex."
Sometime in January 2013, he picked her up from school in a taxi and they went to his condominium.
He took her to a restroom on the first storey and asked her to perform oral sex on him. She went home after that.
Later that month, he again picked her up in a taxi outside her school.
During the trip to his home, he performed oral sex on her on the rear passenger seat. It is not known if the cabby saw the act.
On another occasion, he took her to his bedroom and they had protected sex. Afterwards, he gave her $20 to take a taxi home.
Sim met his fourth victim, an 11-year-old girl, also in late 2012.
A few weeks later, he texted her to ask her to show him pictures of her breasts. She sent two photographs - one of herself and the other of her female cousin.
On Dec 4, she also sent to his mobile phone a video of her caressing herself.
Sim's crimes came to light 11 days later, when the twins' mother found the Samsung Galaxy phone that he had given the younger girl.
She confronted her and took her to Nanyang Neighbourhood Police Centre in Jurong West to make a report.
Sim was arrested on Feb 19 last year and charged in court the next day.
The police seized his mobile phone and discovered the video of the 11-year-old girl.
In his mitigation, Sim's lawyer, Mr Edmond Pereira, told Justice Tay that his client has "borderline to low average level of intellectual functioning".
He added: "Our client is an introvert and has difficulty in relating to people of his age because of low self-worth and awkward social skills in making friends."
Calling for a non-crushing sentence, Mr Pereira said Sim had not been diagnosed with paedophilia.
While acknowledging Sim's low IQ, DPP Zhong stressed that the psychiatric report "expressly concludes that he does not suffer from any intellectual disability".
"He was also found to be relevant and coherent without any psychotic symptoms and was able to give a concise and consistent account," he said.
DPP Zhong pressed for 20 to 22 years' jail with the maximum 24 strokes of the cane.
He said: "This sentence is needed to show the law's unstinting commitment towards protecting our young."
For each count of statutory rape, Sim could have been jailed for up to 20 years.
"During (their) chats, the accused asked the third victim about her height, weight, waistline and breast size, whether she was still a virgin, and whether she wanted to have sex."
- Deputy Public Prosecutor Zhong Zewei
TWINS SUFFERING FROM SHAME AND SELF-BLAME
After their encounters with Benjamin Sim Wei Liang, now 30, the girls felt a morass of emotions including shame and self-blame.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Zhong Zewei said they were obviously unprepared to handle a sexual relationship with Sim.
The older twin felt "dirty" and "sad" about sending her nude pictures to Sim, he added.
She also felt "very bad" for introducing her twin sister to Sim. They were only 13 when they met him in 2012.
"Likewise, the (younger twin) admitted having nightmares about the accused threatening her not to report the matter to the police, and also felt blame and anger towards herself."
Sim's multiple offences against the young girls suggest that he is a danger to society, said DPP Zhong.
The psychiatric report on Sim also shows his "disturbing lack of self control and insight".
DPP Zhong said: "He also felt he was not wrong in having a sexual relationship and sexual intercourse with the victims, blithely assuming that they could make an informed choice about these matters.
"Far from expressing regret for his offences, the accused, during his psychiatric examination, insisted that he was not wrong.
"He contended that it was 'unjust' to charge him as he was unaware of the law protecting minors."
Expert: Victims were groomed
Teenagers often want the freedom of choice that comes with being an adult but do not realise the consequences of their actions, said Dr Carol Balhetchet, senior director for youth services at the Singapore Children's Society.
Expressing her shock at how the female victims sent explicit pictures of themselves and went on to have sex with a sexual predator like Benjamin Sim Wei Liang, the clinical psychologist added: "In general, teenagers take risks, experiment and push boundaries.
"Adults have freedom of choice but teenagers don't realise that adults take responsibility for their freedom. One day, this will come back to affect them and they'll regret it."
Dr Munidasa Winslow, 55, consultant psychiatrist at Novena Medical Centre, gave three reasons why the girls could have succumbed to Sim.
Firstly, they were groomed to see Sim as benevolent rather than as a stranger.
"The man probably paid attention to building up friendships and trust with the girls," said the psychiatrist of more than 20 years.
Secondly, their families may have been busy and had few opportunities to pick up on anything amiss in their children's lives or to answer questions about sex and virginity.
"These girls may not have set up boundaries with regard to relationships and sex," said Dr Winslow.
Lastly, the girls may have been exposed to sexually explicit material online.
"They may have not only seen pornography but also engaged in discussions of a sexual nature with strangers in forums.
"Hence, they could have become desensitised to sex, making it easier for them to engage in sexual activities," he said. - Kerri Heng