Public Prosecutor v MX

JudgeTay Yong Kwang J
Judgment Date18 April 2006
Neutral Citation[2006] SGHC 67
Date18 April 2006
Subject MatterPrinciples,Rape victims' presence in court and oral testimony not required,Appropriate total sentence in light of multiple offences,Sentencing,Additional charges of rape, attempted aggravated rape and outrage of modesty taken into consideration for sentencing purposes,Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Section 18 Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed),Trials,Accused pleading guilty to various charges of rape and aggravated rape,Whether proceedings should be held in camera,Proceedings in camera,Section 153(3) Women's Charter (Cap 353, 1997 Rev Ed)
Docket NumberCriminal Case No 12 of 2006
Published date19 April 2006
Defendant CounselHarold Seet Pek Hian and Indra Raj (Harold Seet & Indra Raj)
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Plaintiff CounselEugene Lee and Crystal Ong (Deputy Public Prosecutors)

18 April 2006

Judgment reserved.

Tay Yong Kwang J:

The facts

1 The accused is now 45 years old. He pleaded guilty to five charges of rape under s 376(1) and four charges of aggravated rape under s 376(2) of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed) All five female victims named in the nine charges are his biological daughters from his various wives. All the rape charges involved sexual intercourse with his daughters without their consent. Four of the charges were aggravated rape charges because the daughters involved in those instances were under 14 years of age at the material times.

2 In addition to the above, the accused also admitted and consented to having another 34 charges taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing. These 34 charges involved 24 charges of rape under s 376(1), three charges of attempted aggravated rape under s 376(2) read with s 511 of the Penal Code and seven charges of outrage of modesty under s 354 of the same.

The facts

3 The accused has ten wives. Four are legal wives while six are contractual wives. He has a total of 64 children from these ten wives, consisting of 33 sons and 31 daughters. They range in age from nine months to 16 years. The accused also has two other daughters from his previous marriage which was dissolved in 1988.

4 The accused resided with his extended family in three Housing and Development Board flats. Before his arrest, he was running a transportation business, assisted by two of his wives. All the rape offences took place in one of the flats between December 2003 and June 2005. The five daughters named in the nine charges that were proceeded with (“the five daughters”) were between 12 and 15 years of age at the time of the offences. Only the eldest has since turned 16. Two of the five daughters are now residing in a girls’ home while the other three have been placed under statutory supervision in the custody of their mothers. In the charges that were taken into consideration, a sixth daughter, aged 12 at the time of the offences, was the victim in two of the attempted aggravated rape charges and in one outrage of modesty charge. None of the daughter-victims bears the accused’s name as he has changed his name.

5 Sometime in March 2004, the accused gathered some of his wives and daughters and told them that according to the Koran, a father had ownership over his children and that such ownership extended to having sexual intercourse with his daughters. His family believed him because he was a devout man who had conducted religious classes for his family. However, according to the Director of Religious Affairs of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, the accused’s interpretation of the relevant verse in the Koran is not adopted by contemporary or classical Muslim scholars.

6 Investigations by the police revealed that before and after that meeting, the accused had sexual intercourse with the five daughters over a period of more than a year. Whenever he wanted to have sexual intercourse, one of his wives would approach one of the five daughters and inform her to go to his bedroom. This went on until 24 June 2005 when the eldest daughter reported to the police that she had been raped by her father. The next day, the accused was asked to go to the police station. He complied and was placed under arrest there. He has been in remand since that day.

7 The accused was examined at the Institute of Mental Health. In a psychiatric report dated 18 August 2005, Dr Jerome Goh stated that the accused admitted to having had sexual intercourse with six of his daughters. The accused also revealed that he had made two of them pregnant and that they subsequently underwent abortion. The psychiatrist noted that the accused was relevant and coherent during the interviews and was not depressed. The accused was found not to be suffering from any mental illness and was fit to be tried in court.

8 In his statements to the police, the accused also admitted to having had sexual intercourse with his daughters. However, he was unable to recall the exact number of times he had sexual intercourse with each daughter.

9 The accused has no previous convictions.

The Prosecution’s submissions on sentence

10 The Prosecution submitted that in cases involving young victims, particularly an accused’s own children, the courts had never shied away from imposing heavy sentences in order to send a clear signal to all would-be offenders that there was zero-tolerance for such heinous crimes. It argued that this case ranked as one of the most serious cases of sexual abuse in recent years and asked for a deterrent sentence to be meted out so that the accused would be incarcerated for a substantial period and be unable to prey on his own children upon his release from prison.

11 The Prosecution highlighted the following aggravating factors calling for a deterrent sentence in this case:

(a) There was abuse of trust in that the five daughters respected and trusted the accused and therefore did not physically resist him although they felt that what he was doing to them was wrong.

(b) As their father, the accused had easy access to the victims and the rapes occurred in the sanctity of their home.

(c) Six daughters in all fell victim and the offences were so many that they, and even the accused, were hard-pressed to keep count.

(d) All the victims involved were of tender age.

(e) The offences were not committed on the spur of the moment.

(f) Two of the young girls became pregnant as a result of the rape and had to undergo abortion. The first had the abortion done in Singapore while the second was brought to Batam by the accused and some of his wives for the abortion as they did not want to arouse suspicion since the accused’s name would appear as their father in both cases.

12 Three precedents, all involving sexual abuse by a father or stepfather, were cited for my guidance. The sentences imposed in those cases ranged from 24 to 30 years’ imprisonment, together with 24 strokes of the cane where the accused was not already 50 years of age.

The mitigation plea

13 The accused is a qualified religious teacher who used to give religious talks at mosques and other institutions. After he converted from the Sunni Sect to the Shi’ite Sect, he continued to conduct religious classes in his home and to provide guidance to his pupils, friends and associates. Three of his friends provided testimonials describing him as a humble and hardworking family man, given to imparting knowledge and good advice. He is also said to be a very responsible husband and father.

14 The accused’s ten wives are now between 35 and 40 years old. Six of them are working while the other four are housewives. He was a responsible husband and father towards his extended family, supporting even his two daughters from his previous marriage who are currently pursuing tertiary education.

15 Defence counsel sought to explain that the accused’s offences against his own children were not the result of lust. This could be seen from the fact that he did not commit similar offences against his other daughters, some of whom were in the same age group as the six victims in this case.

16 In early 2003, his transportation business was in financial straits and he had problems retaining employees. He had to put in extra hours of work and was stressed in trying to make a living for his large family. In late 2003, his business woes were compounded when he found out that his older daughters (the six victims here) were associating with boys and were behaving inappropriately.

17 The accused decided to take action. He called his wives and children for a discussion. He recalled a verse in the Koran and interpreted it to mean that he had ownership of his children and, accordingly, could have sex with them. He was of the view, now acknowledged to be an erroneous one, that if he could satisfy the sexual needs of his daughters, they would be less likely to engage in sexual activities with boys. He also believed that it would be the lesser of two evils if his daughters had sex with him rather than with other males as it would protect them against diseases and they would always have his love and care. He regretted his decision and admitted that the said verse had been misinterpreted by him. He also acknowledged that he should have consulted scholars on the interpretation of that verse, which he did not due to his business problems then.

18 The accused regrets having impregnated two of his daughters. However, he did not abandon them. Instead, he made the arrangements for the abortions and continued to care for them thereafter. In the sexual encounters with his daughters, the accused did not use force or perform any gross indignities on them.

19 When the accused was contacted by the police, he could have fled and abandoned his family but he did not. Instead, he surrendered himself to the police. He has no criminal record. He co-operated fully with the police in their investigations and as early as during the pre-trial conferences and the preliminary inquiry, he already indicated that he would admit his guilt, which he has done now by pleading guilty. By doing so, he has spared his daughters the agony of having to recount the embarrassing offences in court and of having to testify against their father.

20 The accused is remorseful. He realises that he has shattered his family’s respect for him and that his actions have caused his family to have doubts about their faith.

21 A long period of incarceration would cause grave financial hardship to his large family. He therefore pleaded for a minimum custodial sentence, after which he could continue with his duty to care and provide for his family. Although it was held in Lai Oei Mui Jenny v PP [1993] 3 SLR 305 that financial difficulties caused to the accused’s family by his incarceration were generally not a good mitigating factor, the...

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4 cases
  • Public Prosecutor v UI
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 5 Agosto 2008
    ...making a total of 24 years’ imprisonment. As he was above the age of 50, the punishment of caning was not applicable. (e) In PP v MX [2006] 2 SLR 786, the offender pleaded guilty to, inter alia, four charges of aggravated rape under s 376(2) of the Penal Code. The victims were his five daug......
  • Public Prosecutor v NF
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    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 21 Septiembre 2006
    ...(refd) PP v MU [1999] SGHC 107 (refd) PP v MV [2002] SGHC 161 (refd) PP v MW [2002] 2 SLR (R) 432; [2002] 4 SLR 912 (folld) PP v MX [2006] 2 SLR (R) 786; [2006] 2 SLR 786 (refd) PP v Ng Bee Ling Lana [1992] 1 SLR (R) 448; [1992] 1 SLR 635 (folld) PP v Peh Thian Hui [2002] 2 SLR (R) 41; [200......
  • Public Prosecutor v AOM
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 7 Febrero 2011
    ...ordered to run consecutively for a global sentence of 24 years’ imprisonment with 24 strokes of the cane. In Public Prosecutor v MX [2006] 2 SLR(R) 786, the accused pleaded guilty to 5 charges of rape under s 376(1) and 4 charges of aggravated rape under s 376(2) of the Penal Code. The accu......
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    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 5 Agosto 2008
    ...making a total of 24 years’ imprisonment. As he was above the age of 50, the punishment of caning was not applicable. (e) In PP v MX [2006] 2 SLR 786, the offender pleaded guilty to, inter alia, four charges of aggravated rape under s 376(2) of the Penal Code. The victims were his five daug......
1 books & journal articles
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    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2009, December 2009
    • 1 Diciembre 2009
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