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The Straits Times
Aug 22, 2022
A tip-off by the Australian authorities to the Singapore police led to the arrest of a teaching assistant who systematically groomed and sexually abused 11 boys he had met at an after-school care centre over a seven-year period.
On Monday (Aug 22), in what prosecutors said is one of the worst cases of paedophilic sexual abuse of young boys that have come before the court, the 30-year-old man was sentenced to 42 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane.
The man, described by prosecutors as a "dangerous paedophile", pleaded guilty to six charges of aggravated sexual assault by penetration committed against four victims when they were between nine and 11 years old.
Another 54 charges - including one for aggravated rape, another 23 for sexual assault by penetration and 22 for sexual penetration of a minor - were considered during sentencing.
The man, who cannot be named owing to a gag order to protect the children’s identities, admitted to sexually assaulting the 11 boys between 2013 and 2020, mostly at the centre and in his home.
He also admitted to preying on a 12th victim he had met on dating app Grindr when the boy was 13 to 14 years old.
High Court Judge Mavis Chionh said: "This was an accused who relentlessly and cynically took advantage of his position at the after-school care centre and the access it afforded him to a pool of potential victims to carry on his campaign of sexual abuse for some seven years."
The man "exhibited a calculated cunning in the manner he preyed on the naivete and childish sensibilities of his young victims", added Justice Chionh.
"So successful was the accused at worming his way into the naive affections of his young charges that their parents came to trust him as well," she said.
The man was allowed by the parents of victim V4 to take the boy out for movies and dinner, played badminton with V2 and his family on weekends, and was invited by V3's parents to their home for meals.
The court heard that the man spent his primary school years at the centre, which provided after-school care and enrichment courses for children aged six to 12.
After his national service, he returned to help out at the centre and was given a monthly allowance that was gradually raised to $900 in 2020.
He gained the boys' trust by professing his love for them, plying them with food and mobile phone game credits, and taking them to his home to play video games.
He began with seemingly innocent physical contact, such as hugging them, before progressing to performing sexual acts on the boys and getting them to perform sexual acts on him.
On several occasions, he took two or three victims with him into the shower room. At times, he made the boys perform sexual acts on each other.
He also recorded videos of the assaults - 105 clips were found in his electronic devices.
The court heard that in 2015, the mother of victim V7, who was in Primary 5, confronted the man over the text messages, such as "I love you baby", he sent her son. The man accused her of neglecting her son and went on to commit further sexual assaults on V7.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sean Teh told the court that on April 22, 2020, the South Australia Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team alerted the Singapore police that an e-mail account linked to the man had received at least 17 e-mails containing links to download child pornography.
The man's home was raided on Aug 11, 2020.
After his arrest, he was diagnosed with paedophilic disorder and was assessed to pose a moderate to high risk of reoffending.
DPP Teh sought 39 to 42 years' jail, while defence counsel Kalaithasan Karuppaya sought 33 to 40 years' jail.
Each charge of sexual assault by penetration carries between eight and 20 years' jail and at least 12 strokes of the cane.