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The Straits Times
September 5, 2022
Shortly after he was released from prison for sexual offences against a 15-year-old girl, a man with paedophilic tendencies sought out more victims.
Muhammad Hisham Abdul Karim, now 34, befriended an 11-year-old girl on Instagram in 2017 and asked her to meet him for sex on multiple occasions.
Once, he offered her some methamphetamine, commonly known as Ice, which she then smoked before they engaged in sexual acts at the back of a lorry.
He used the same method to contact six other girls, aged 10 to 12, in the hope that they would agree to sexual activities with him.
On Monday, the lorry attendant was sentenced to 20 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane.
The jail term imposed by the High Court was longer than the 16-year term sought by the prosecution.
Justice Mavis Chionh said the offences were "premeditated and deviously planned" and that the man initiated contact with the victim and suggested that they have sex knowing full well she was a primary school pupil.
The judge also noted that his previous sentence "did not teach him anything".
Hisham pleaded guilty to four charges of aggravated sexual assault by penetration against the 11-year-old victim, who was legally deemed to be incapable of giving consent in 2017.
Another 11 charges were taken into consideration, including six charges of attempting to procure indecent acts from the other girls between November 2018 and September 2019.
The court heard that Hisham was sentenced to 10 months' jail in March 2016 for sexual penetration of the 15-year-old girl.
After his release, in May 2017, he found the 11-year-old victim and her primary school friends on Instagram, and sent her a friend request, which she accepted.
They continued messaging each other; he indicated that he wanted to engage in sexual activities with her, and she agreed.
On one occasion, they agreed to meet at a staircase landing of a block of flats.
The girl asked him to have sex with her, but he did not want her to become pregnant, so he engaged in other penetrative sexual acts with her.
On another occasion, he took her on his motorcycle to an open-air carpark in Woodlands, and told her to board a covered lorry belonging to his employer.
He then took out some Ice and drug-taking utensils, and the girl smoked the drugs he gave her.
He then engaged in other penetrative sexual acts with her after declining her request for sex.
Their relationship soured in November that year and they stopped contacting each other.
In February 2020, the victim attended a session with a case worker and revealed that she had sex with Hisham in 2017.
A police report was made by Ministry of Social and Family Development staff on the same day.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Regina Lim said the present charges against the accused, as well as his past offending, reflect a conscious pattern of targeting young victims for sexual gratification.
Defence counsel Nakoorsha A.K. said his client's decision to plead guilty was a sign of genuine remorse.