Singapore

Court rejects appeal of man who sexually assaulted son's friend

Court says 9-year-old had no motive to lie

The Court of Appeal yesterday rejected arguments by a former chief executive, who is serving jail time for sexual offences against his son's nine-year-old schoolmate, that the boy had lied about being abused.

The 49-year-old, a foreign national, was appealing against his conviction and sentence of 14 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane for sexually assaulting the victim during a Halloween sleepover in 2015.

He cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim. Among other things, his lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam argued the boy could have made up allegations of sexual assault to placate his father for having to fetch him from the man's house at close to midnight.

But the three-judge appeal court concluded the boy had "absolutely no motive" to falsely accuse his friend's father of such acts. "All the evidence pointed to the fact that this nine-year-old boy could not have been dreaming or fantasising or telling a blatant lie to seek attention," said Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang.

On Oct 31, 2015, the man and his wife threw a Halloween party at their home. The victim, a friend of their youngest son, was one of those invited to the party and sleepover afterwards. The boy testified that he pretended to be asleep when the man entered the room at night and touched his genitals. Later on, the man performed oral sex on him twice.

The boy packed his things. He told the man he was not feeling well and asked to call his father to take him home. He spoke softly to his father in French, using words to the effect of "get me out of here", so the man and his wife would not understand. In the car, the boy told his father what had happened.

When the boy's father confronted the man, the boy crouched on the floorboard and refused to repeat the allegations because he was "very scared". The boy threw away the pyjamas he wore that night a few days later. It was on the advice of his school counsellor that the family called the police.

REASONS

The man maintained his innocence during his trial, offering various reasons for why the boy would falsely implicate him. He suggested the boy had lied to escape his father's wrath for having to miss the live telecast of the Rugby World Cup final to pick him up. He also suggested the boy made up the allegations for attention or he had imagined the sexual assault as he was shaken by the Halloween atmosphere.

Yesterday, Mr Thuraisingam said the father could have been annoyed at having to pick the boy up. The court, which also comprised Judge of Appeal Steven Chong and Justice Woo Bih Li, was not persuaded.

"Having just had an enjoyable Halloween party, his abrupt decision to go home at close to midnight was very telling," said the court. "It is clear to us that he was scared, not because he had just told a terrible lie against an adult who was now standing near him but because he was genuinely afraid after experiencing the terrible things that the appellant had done in the bedroom."

COURT & CRIME