Construction worker sentenced to 17 years' jail, 24 strokes, for MacRitchie rape and abduction
SINGAPORE — Dismissing the defence as “bizarre” and “incomprehensible”, a High Court judge sentenced a 24-year-old man to 17 years’ jail and 24 strokes of the cane for abducting and raping a woman in broad daylight at MacRitchie Reservoir.
Pramanik Liton, a Bangladeshi who worked here as a construction worker, had conjured a tall tale when he took the stand to defend himself on Thursday (May 18), saying he had met the victim on the day of the offence, but he merely shouted at her to scare her, causing her to die from fright.
This, even though the 40-year-old victim, a China national who cannot be named on court order, had testified against him in court days earlier.
In sentencing Liton, Justice Choo Han Teck said the “bizarre” bid to deny the rape and abduction charges would have made for “the world’s first supernatural trial”.
"But I see nothing supernatural, only a traumatised woman who has convinced me that you committed these offences," the judge said.
Liton’s version of events on Feb 8, 2015 was his third since he was arrested.
The woman was walking alone along Lornie Trail of the reservoir at around 1.45pm that day when she encountered Liton.
He accosted her, asking her to have sex with him. After the woman rejected his advances, Liton placed a knife against her neck and covered her nose and mouth.
She was then taken to a forested area off Lornie Trail, where she was raped twice. Liton also forced her to perform other sex acts on him.
After raping her, Liton discarded the knife in another part of the trail before leaving the scene.
The woman then called her boyfriend, who is now her husband, and they lodged a police report that evening.
Later that night, the location of the rape was pinpointed by a tracker from the Gurkha Contingent of the police force, who found the ground in one area flattened, with pieces of tissue paper strewn around.
The next afternoon, a knife was found, with a fingerprint lifted off it matching Liton’s.
Traces of Liton’s semen were found on the woman’s underwear, in her mouth and vagina, as well as on three pieces of tissue paper found near the scene.
Arrested by the cops two days after the offence, Liton said he wanted to scare the woman into having sex with him. Speaking to a psychiatrist later, Liton changed his tune, saying he and the victim had gone out with each other. He changed his account yet again in court on Thursday, saying the victim was a stranger he did scare, but did not lay a finger on because she had died.
Justice Choo said: "Against the weight of the evidence (stacked against you), it seems like a defence of desperation."
In his mitigation plea, Liton, who had discharged a lawyer assigned to him, said through a Bengali interpreter that he had “made a mistake”.
He added: "I made a mistake that I not plead guilty in the first place, and also did not engage a lawyer. Please impose on me, the minimum sentence.”
Deputy Public Prosecutor Stella Tan, however, argued for at least 20 years’ imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane to be imposed on Liton. She noted that planning had gone into the offences.
"Like a predator...he lay in wait, for a prey to be dragged into the forested area," she added. "To commit offences in such a public setting is in itself deplorable, but to also subject (her) to the indignity of rape and fellatio is simply heinous."
The prosecution also argued that Liton's actions had "deeply scarred", and left an "indelible impact" on the victim.
"No woman should have to fear that she may be abducted and raped at knife point in the course of taking a walk in the park in broad daylight. Most certainly not in Singapore," Ms Tan said.
"An exemplary sentence ought to be meted out to (Liton), so any offender contemplating such offences is made duly aware of the harsh penal consequences," she added.