Construction worker on trial for rape in broad daylight at MacRitchie Reservoir
SINGAPORE — A casual afternoon walk at MacRitchie Reservoir turned into a two-hour ordeal for a 40-year-old woman in 2015, after she was accosted by a construction worker and threatened with a knife, before being raped twice.
The trial of her alleged rapist, Pramanik Liton, now 24, began yesterday with the Bangladeshi national facing four charges — two counts of aggravated rape, one count of sexual assault by penetration and one count of abduction for illicit intercourse.
In the prosecution’s opening statement, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Stella Tan said that the accused and his victim — a Chinese national who cannot be named due to a court order — did not know each other.
Recounting the incident on Feb 8, 2015, DPP Tan said that the woman was walking alone along Lornie Trail of the reservoir at around 1.45pm, 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 had also forced her to perform other sex acts on him.
DPP Tan also told the court that the victim had seen Liton discarding his knife in another part of the trail after the rape 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 court heard, the location of the rape was discovered after a tracker from the Gurkha Contingent of the police force noted that the ground in the area was flattened, and pieces of tissue paper were found there.
The next afternoon, a knife was found, and the prosecution said that it would show that the fingerprint lifted off the knife matched Liton’s.
DPP Tan said that the prosecution would also provide evidence that 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.
Liton told the High Court on Tuesday that he “did not know anything about the knife”. Liton, who is representing himself, also said that he “did not need any lawyer” for his case.
The absence of a defence lawyer was highlighted when Liton was shown a sketched map of the alleged rape area, and the accused said he did not understand the map.
Justice Choo Han Teck asked why Liton had no counsel, since he was “facing four very serious charges”.
Liton was then taken through the details of the map, with the aid of pictures.
He told the court, through a Bengali interpreter, that he went to “the right side of the park”, but that the map was showing the left side.
Later during the hearing, there was a discussion on Liton’s self-representation. The court learnt that the accused’s previous counsel, Ms Sadhana Rai, who was assigned to him by the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, had discharged herself earlier.
Justice Choo wanted the case to be adjourned so that Liton could find himself a lawyer.
However, DPP Tan said that the victim was “unstable” and had taken time off from work to testify in the trial, and wanted the case to be heard as soon as possible. “She has been waiting for this day for a long time,” said DPP Tan.
If convicted of aggravated rape, Liton faces at least eight years in jail and a minimum of 12 strokes of the cane, for each charge.
The trial continues on Wednesday. The prosecution said it would be calling 44 witnesses, including the victim’s husband, to testify.