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Crane operator on trial for rape: Girl, 12, sent sexually-charged messages first

Man on trial for raping girl, 12, says: 'If I were such a jerk, the first victim would be my daughter'

Lee Seow Peng.

He is accused of raping a 12-year-old girl at their first meeting after having exchanged text messages over the phone.

But crane operator Lee Seow Peng, now 39, told the court yesterday that the girl was the one who had sent the suggestive and sexually-charged messages first.

Taking the stand for the first time on the sixth day of his trial, he told Judicial Commissioner Hoo Sheau Peng: "I was merely patronising her... I only chatted with her as a friend."

Lee, who is not represented by a lawyer, is accused of one count each of rape, sexually grooming a minor and attempting to procure the commission of an indecent act by the girl.

He allegedly committed these offences in May and June 2012.

Speaking through a Mandarin interpreter, he denied committing the offences.

He said his wife, who has a 19-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, would leave the teenager with him whenever she returned to her home country.

"If I were such a jerk, I think the first victim would be my daughter," he said.

Lee also recounted his version of what took place on May 29, 2012 - the day of the alleged rape.

He said he could not recall who initiated the meeting that day as they had exchanged many messages.

He added that he texted her after work at around 7.20pm and they agreed to meet that evening. He drove from Hougang to meet her at a bus stop near the Bukit Batok Golf Centre.

He said that after they made their introductions, she entered his multi-purpose vehicle. He suggested that they go for tea at a coffee shop.

But Lee testified that he continued driving as she "didn't want a place nearby".

He decided to go to the Chinese Garden and once there, they walked around the area.

He said they returned to his vehicle at around 8.30pm when the girl "felt pain in her leg".

About 10 minutes later, they went to a nearby fast-food restaurant to buy a burger set each.

After that, Lee said he drove the girl to her home in the western part of Singapore and they reached their destination at around 9.10pm.

He said: "I did not rape her. I have no motives against her. My wife told me: 'You did not do it, face (the charges) bravely'. So, I must live not only for myself, but also for my family."

The trial continues today.

About the case

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Izwan joins LionsXII's Class of 2013 at Tampines

Goalkeeper joins eight other members from LionsXII's Class of 2013 under Sundram

SEALED: Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra says the signing of Izwan Mahbud (above) gives the Stags a solid spine.
SEALED: Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra (left) says the signing of Izwan Mahbud (right) gives the Stags a solid spine.

They were a fit and disciplined unit that were nigh impossible to break down as they stormed to the 2013 Malaysian Super League (MSL) title under the guidance of V Sundramoorthy.

Now, it appears that the LionsXII's Class of 2013 are being reassembled for a shot at winning trophies in the local game. 

Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League giants Tampines Rovers confirmed the signing of goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud yesterday, in what appears to be the final piece in coach Sundram's jigsaw. 

There are now nine LionsXII players, along with Fazrul Nawaz, who turned out for the Singapore side in 2013, on Tampines' payroll.   

"Frankly, I really wanted Izwan to be able to play abroad, push his own boundaries, and fly the flag for Singapore footballers," said Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra, who revealed that the club contacted Izwan after the LionsXII squad broke up due to the Football Association of Malaysia's decision not to extend the Memorandum of Understanding that saw the Singapore side enter Malaysian domestic competitions in 2012.

"I'm delighted to have him on board, he now gives us a very good spine (in the team), and I'm sure it will have a positive impact on us."

Izwan had gone for trials with Japanese side Matsumoto Yamaga while Thai club Chonburi had also enquired on his availability, but neither option panned out.

"We allowed him to go for trials, and pursue options to join foreign clubs, plus the back-up possibility that Tampines are the team he will play for if it didn't work out," said the lawyer. 

"I still feel that we should support our national footballers to push the envelope, and now (having Izwan) it's like I'm having my cake and eating it too.

"Izwan has worked hard to get where he is today, and his is a good old-fashioned story of how hard work pays off.

"I'm glad we've got a good, honest guy like him on board, and I must say I'm very buoyant about the new season." 

The 25-year-old joined his squad for training yesterday and, while he still hopes to play overseas one day, he is excited about the new challenge facing him in the S.League. 

"I'm very grateful for the opportunity the club gave me and I hope to repay them on the pitch," Izwan told The New Paper. 

"I'm glad that I've joined the club, and I'm excited about getting started." 

Tampines start their season on Jan 27, when they face Mohun Bagan away in an Asian Football Confederation Champions League qualifier.

Sundram and his charges have been tasked to take Tampines back to the summit of local football but Krishna is adamant that he will not put pressure on the team, despite assembling a squad with some of the most talented players in the country. 

"We want to win trophies, but silverware is not the only barometer for measuring success. I'm not putting pressure on the team to win - and I've told Sundram as much - the style of football is important," said Krishna. 

"We've got an opportunity to play in AFC competitions and show what Singapore football is about. I hope the team playing with this kind of freedom will make us good to watch." 

With Izwan choosing Tampines and midfielder Isa Halim joining Geylang International, all 28 players in Fandi Ahmad's extended LionsXII squad have found new clubs.