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More than 13 years’ jail for HIV-positive man who repeatedly had sex with underage girl he met at animal shelter

SINGAPORE — When a 14-year-old girl’s aunt first took her to an animal shelter, the head trainer pleaded with his boss to accept the teenager as a volunteer even though she was underage, and later became her mentor there.

More than 13 years’ jail for HIV-positive man who repeatedly had sex with underage girl he met at animal shelter
  • After his release from prison, a man started work at an animal shelter
  • He met a 14-year-old girl there and persuaded his boss to accept her as a volunteer, even though she was below 16
  • The pair got closer and they began having sex in a room he rented with his long-term girlfriend
  • He told the teenager that he wanted to marry her and have a child with her
  • His offences came to light when the girl’s brother came across their text messages to each other

SINGAPORE — When a 14-year-old girl’s aunt first took her to an animal shelter, the head trainer pleaded with his boss to accept the teenager as a volunteer even though she was underage, and later became her mentor there.

He then took advantage of the girl, who was 25 years his junior, and they had sex at least 17 times — all without him telling her that he had the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). She ultimately did not contract it.

He also told the Secondary 2 student that he wanted to marry her in 10 years and lied that he was single, committing the sexual offences in a room he rented with his then-long term girlfriend.

On Monday (Dec 13), the Singaporean man, now aged 41, was jailed for 13 years and two months. He has been on remand since July this year, when he failed to turn up for his scheduled hearing to plead guilty and cut off his ankle electronic tag.

He cannot be named due to a court gag order, which is usually imposed in cases of accused persons who have HIV. He was diagnosed with it in 2011 and his viral load was found to be undetectable when he was last tested in July 2019.

He pleaded guilty on Monday to 11 charges of sexual penetration of a minor and engaging in sexual activity without informing his partner of the risk of contracting HIV.

Twenty-five other charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.

Under the Infectious Diseases Act, individuals who know they have HIV or the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (Aids) have to tell their sexual partner of the risk. Their partners also have to voluntarily agree to accept the risk.

It was not the first time that he had breached the Act — he was jailed for 18 months in 2012 for a similar offence, the court heard.

PLEADED FOR GIRL TO BECOME A VOLUNTEER

The court also heard that the man was released in January 2019 from his last prison stint for shop theft, just nine months before his offences against the girl.

He was out on a remission order when he began volunteering at an animal shelter. The co-owner eventually tasked him to take care of the premises on certain occasions and he was given an allowance of S$50 to S$100 daily.

In July 2019, he was promoted to the position of head trainer, supervising the shelter’s cleaners and teaching volunteers how to handle the dogs and kennels, among other tasks.

Around July 6 that year, the girl’s aunt — who had previously volunteered there — took her to the shelter when she expressed interest in visiting. The older woman then introduced her niece to the man.

When the girl returned a week later, he recognised her and provided a dog for her to take care of it, teaching her to handle it. Her visit lasted about four to five hours.

He then asked if she was interested to volunteer and join the shelter’s chat group.

After he got her contact number and added her to the group, the shelter’s co-owner told him that she was too young, and that he should only accept volunteers who were aged 16 or older.

He then pleaded with the co-owner to change her mind, saying that the girl came from a broken home and that she might go astray if she was not accepted. He also said that she was not doing well academically and that she might want to work as a shelter trainer after finishing school.

Because of this, the co-owner decided to let her be the only underage volunteer in the shelter.

AGREED TO BE HIS GIRLFRIEND AFTER KISS

The teenager went to the animal shelter almost every Saturday from July to December 2019 and she was placed under the man’s guidance as an apprentice.

They soon began communicating privately on the WhatsApp and Instagram platforms, where he called her “princess” and “dear”.

Soon after he kissed her at the shelter in August 2019, she agreed to become his girlfriend.

However, he had already been dating another woman for four years, staying with her in a public flat in the northern region of Singapore.

He lied to the girl that he was last in a relationship 20 years ago and that he lived in the flat with his mother.

From Sept 3 to Dec 3, they had or tried to have sex 17 times at his flat in the mornings before he would go to work at the shelter. She was a virgin before this.

He also made sure not to take her home in the afternoon when his landlord or the landlord’s children would be home.

When the girl told him that she was aged 14, he replied that age did not matter if they were in love, and that they had sex so often because he loved her very much and wanted to have a baby with her.

He also said that a man who had sex with her once and refused to have sex a second time was an “untrustworthy man”.

His offences came to light around the end of November 2019, when the girl’s brother was using her mobile phone and stumbled upon their Instagram conversation logs.

The man was later charged with having sex with a minor and other offences. On July 27 this year, due to stress over the ongoing court matter, he cut off his electronic tag, skipped the court hearing and returned to his workplace.

On Monday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Ong and Ministry of Health prosecutor Jason Lee sought the sentence imposed, noting that the man had exposed the girl to the risk of pregnancy and contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

In mitigation, the man — who did not have a lawyer — told the court that he was “very shameful and remorseful of all the things that happened”, promising that this would be the last time he broke the law.

“My loved one and mother have accepted me back. I know it will be a long sentence, I beg for mercy… I beg for one last chance,” he said.

For each charge of sexually penetrating a minor, he could have been jailed up to 10 years or fined, or given both punishments.

For the Infectious Disease Act offences, he could have been jailed up to 10 years or fined up to S$50,000, or both.

Related topics

crime court sex teenager HIV animal shelter

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