Crane operator guilty of raping 12-year-old girl
Man found guilty of raping girl, 12
A crane operator was found guilty yesterday of raping a 12-year-old girl, just three days after meeting her through a mobile phone messaging app.
Lee Seow Peng, 39, was also convicted of one count of sexually grooming the minor and one count of attempting to get the girl to perform an indecent act.
Lee had earlier claimed trial to all three charges, denying he had done any of those things.
On May 26, 2012, the girl, who was then in Secondary 1, met Lee through a mobile phone messaging app. Lee used Lucifer as his moniker.
They met three days later when he picked her up in his car near her school.
He drove her to a carpark at the Chinese Garden and raped her in the backseat of his multi-purpose vehicle.
On June 3 that year, Lee attempted to arrange another meeting with the girl to have sex with her again. Her mother discovered his message and the girl told her about the rape.
Her parents made a police report.
Yesterday, on the ninth day of the trial, Judicial Commissioner Hoo Sheau Peng convicted Lee of all three charges.
Judicial Commissioner Hoo said in her oral judgment that the sexually-charged messages exchanged between Lee and the girl before the incident on May 29, 2012, showed his intention to have sex with her.
It was heard during the trial that Lee had messaged the girl about going to a "no people place" (sic) and a "lover will go place" (sic) where they could talk inside his car.
He also said he wanted to give her a "good feel" (sic).
After the incident, their messages contained references that they did have sex, Judicial Commissioner Hoo said.
The judge rejected Lee's defence that he drove the girl to the Chinese Garden for a short walk and chat before he sent her home, calling it "unbelievable".
Judicial Commissioner Hoo added it did not make sense that Lee would drive from his workplace in Hougang to the western part of Singapore just for a short chat, especially as he was in a hurry to get back home to his wife.
But the judge said it was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Lee had sex with the girl without her consent.
This was particularly so as the girl had texted Lee "Goodnight, honey" hours after having sex.
She also continued communicating with Lee in a positive frame of mind.
The contents of her messages to Lee left Judicial Commissioner Hoo "seriously troubled", although the judge did point out that the girl could have continued her interaction with Lee because she craved his attention.
Before concluding her judgment, the judge said the investigation officer, Station Inspector Colin Ng, had handled the case unsatisfactorily.
During the trial, Station Inspector Ng testified he had instructed his colleague to swab the wrong part of Lee's vehicle.
Even so, the swabs were never sent for analysis as Station Inspector Ng said he had left it in his personal locker and forgot about it.
But Judicial Commissioner Hoo said yesterday she was satisfied there was no prejudice to Lee as the lack of DNA evidence was only a neutral factor to his defence.
In her submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor Jasmine Chin-Sabado called for an 11-year jail term with six strokes of the cane.
DPP Chin-Sabado said Lee had used mobile technology and the Internet as a hunting ground and to establish a hold over the girl.
"He is a danger to society and should be kept away," she said.
Lee, who represented himself, then asked the court if his sentence could be postponed till after the Chinese New Year period.
But Judicial Commissioner Hoo rejected his application and said the trial had been going on for over a month and he had been given enough time to settle his personal and work affairs.
Lee then said he wished to engage a lawyer to prepare his mitigation plea.
The case was adjourned to Feb 23 for mitigation and sentencing.
On the rape charge, Lee faces up to 20 years' jail and given at least 12 strokes of the cane.
For sexually grooming a girl under 16, he can be jailed up to three years in jail and fined.
On the indecent act charge, he can be jailed up to five years and fined up to $10,000.
BY THE NUMBERS: 20
The number of years Lee Seow Peng could be jailed for the rape charge