Singapore — High Court Judge Aedit Abdullah has reprimanded a lawyer for portraying a 13-year-old girl as promiscuous and the initiator of intimacy in a 2017 underage sex case.
In the appeal hearing on Monday (Jan 25), the judge also increased the prison sentence of the offender, a 26-year-old former Nanyang Technological University (NTU) undergraduate.
The judge added nine months to the original two-year sentence. It is now extended to 33 months, which was what the prosecution had sought.
The offender met the girl in 2017, when she was only in Secondary 2. He was 22 at the time.
According to todayonline.com, he sent her a photo of his genitals and asked her to do the same.
The two had sex in his home and his hostel room at NTU. While she told him that she was not comfortable with penetrative sex as she was still a virgin, he persuaded her to do so anyway, and did not wear a condom during the act.
The teen later told her form teacher about their sexual relations when the man became a relief teacher at her school. He was arrested.
The man pleaded guilty at the State Courts to three charges of sexual penetration of a minor under 14, with eight similar charges considered as well.
Neither he nor his victim have been named publicly.
His sentence had originally been handed down in February 2020. However, it was appealed by both the defence and the prosecution.
Justice Aedit said that, if the offender’s new lawyer, Mr Anand George, had stuck with the former lawyer’s argument of pointing fingers at the victim, the former NTU student could have got an even longer jail sentence.
The judge did not mince words when it came to reprimanding Mr S Radakrishnan, the offender’s former lawyer, according to a report in tnp.sg (The New Paper).
In five pages of his 51-page judgment on the case, Justice Aedit said that the former lawyer’s arguments were disturbing.
They had alluded to the teenager’s “supposed promiscuity and ill repute, and being the initiator of intimacy”.
Justice Aedit wrote: “Cumulatively, Mr Radakrishnan’s submissions constituted a blatant and unapologetic attempt to foist responsibility and blame on the victim.
“Her character was flagrantly tarred, and I struggled to see what purpose such character assassination served.”
The judge also took issue with Mr Radakrishnan’s endeavour to paint the victim as someone who was sexually mature.
He added: “On Mr Radakrishnan’s accounts, it sounded as though it was the victim who had been sexually predatory and led the accused astray.
“I am appalled: The accused was the adult in the situation.”
Justice Aedit also sounded a warning against similar submissions in the future, saying that, if this were done, “it may be appropriate for the court to impose an uplift to any sentence imposed to reflect a clear absence of remorse in attacking the victim in a scurrilous way”.
The new lawyer, Mr Anand George, said the offender had shown a clear possibility of reform and asked for probation instead of jail.
The judge, however, did not agree with this, citing that the man had initially denied the allegations against him when he was confronted by his superiors at the girl’s school.
TNP quoted a spokesman from NTU as saying the offender is no longer a student there.
“NTU takes a serious view of all criminal offences. Following the conclusion of court proceedings, the university will undertake internal disciplinary proceedings in accordance with our policies and processes. The conferment of the individual’s degree has been withheld in the meantime,” he said. /TISG
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