Singapore

Jail, caning for Briton who molested 3-year-old during class

Case came to light after her parents asked her why she was reluctant to go to school

A Briton who molested a three-year-old girl when he was working as a reading specialist at a learning centre here was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in jail and three strokes of the cane.

Richard Christopher Monks, now 29, pleaded guilty last month to outraging the toddler's modesty in his class on Oct 20, 2018.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage taken from the classroom and played in court last month showed him rearranging some chairs for a video-watching session around 5.20pm that day.

There were six children in the classroom at the time and the victim was the youngest.

The others were between four and five years old.

Aware that there was a camera installed in one corner of the classroom, recording footage from a certain angle, Monks positioned himself behind the children so that he was directly opposite the CCTV camera. As a result, the children's upper bodies blocked the camera's view of his hands.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Hsiao Tien had earlier said that the lower half of the pupils' bodies could not be captured from such an angle. From the footage, Monks was seen positioning himself behind the victim as he played a video on his mobile phone.

The children then leaned over a table to view the phone screen.

The footage showed Monks repeatedly lifting the victim's pink dress and caressing her buttocks with his left hand.

She turned around repeatedly to look at him while he committed the offence.

The DPP added: "The victim was uncomfortable with the accused's touch, and expressed her discomfort by fidgeting and turning back to look at him several times...

"Despite (her) discomfort, the accused continued to touch and caress her buttocks."

The offence came to light on Oct 27, 2018, when the girl's parents were preparing to take her to the learning centre for lessons but the child was reluctant to go.

When asked why, she said "teacher Richard" had "touched her" and pointed to her buttocks.

Her mother alerted the police later that day and stopped taking her daughter to the centre.

Police arrested Monks on Nov 1, 2018, shortly after he returned to Singapore from a trip to Thailand.

For molesting a child below 14 years old, an offender can be jailed for up to five years, and fined or caned.

This article first appeared in The Straits Times.

COURT & CRIME