Man gets 20 years' jail, 24 strokes of cane for sexually assaulting 11-year-old girl

(Getty Images file photo)
(Getty Images file photo)

SINGAPORE — A man was sentenced to 20 years' jail and a maximum 24 strokes of the cane on Monday (5 September) for engaging in sex acts with an 11-year-old girl and offering her methamphetamine, or "Ice".

Muhammad Hisham Abdul Karim, who had befriended the girl on Instagram, pleaded guilty to four charges of sexual assault by penetration of a minor.

Eleven other charges, including drug consumption and attempting to get six other victims aged 10 to 12 to commit an indecent act, were taken into consideration for the sentencing of the 34-year-old Singaporean.

Details of the girl cannot be published due to a gag order to protect her identity.

In May 2017, Hisham sent a friend request to the girl via Instagram after viewing her profile, which referenced her primary school, according to court documents. Her publicly accessible account showed photos of her wearing her school's jersey.

The girl accepted his request and began chatting with him. She noticed that Hisham had also followed several of her primary school friends on Instagram and could see “like” and comment on their posts.

Both of them continued to communicate with each other on Instagram and WhatsApp, following the initial contact.

A few days after messaging one another, the girl agreed to Hisham's request to meet up with him. She also agreed to be sexually intimate with him after he showed his interest.

On at least two occasions, the pair engaged in sexual activities in public places. Once, at a staircase landing at an upper floor of a block of flats, the girl had asked him to have sex with her as she was curious about it.

Hisham indicated that he did not want her to get pregnant and asked her to perform a sex act on him, before sodomising her.

On another occasion, at an open-air carpark in Woodlands, Hisham offered the girl "Ice" at the back of a covered lorry belonging to his employer.

Both smoked the drug using drug paraphernalia provided by Hisham, before the latter undressed the girl and himself. After the girl's request for sex was declined, she performed a sex act on Hisham before being sodomised by him.

In November 2017, their relationship soured and they stopped meeting or messaging one another.

Hisham's acts came to light in February 2020 when the girl revealed them during a session with a case worker. A Ministry of Social and Family Development employee lodged a police report on the same day.

Repeat offender with paedophilic tendencies

According to sentencing submissions by deputy public prosecutors (DPPs) Regina Lim and Keith Jieren Thirumaran, Hisham was convicted in 2016 and sentenced to 10 months' jail for having intercourse with a 15-year-old girl.

"Significantly, this timeline shows that the accused re-offended shortly after his release from prison by committing multiple offences against the victim in 2017," the DPPs said.

Hisham had employed the same "modus operandi" on the 11-year-old and also reached out to six children – three of whom were aged 10 and the other three were aged 12 – between November 2018 and September 2019 in the hope that they would agree to engage in sex acts with him.

"The accused had paedophilic tendencies which he was not able to repress despite having served an imprisonment term for a prior offence of sexual penetration of a minor," the DPPs said. The latest charges against Hisham reflect his pattern of targeting young victims for sexual gratification, they added.

"There is public interest in imposing a sufficiently lengthy custodial term against the accused to deter similar offences by him and other persons in society, and also to protect the young and vulnerable members of society."

For each offence of sexually penetrating a minor, Hisham could have been sentenced to a maximum jail term of 20 years and a fine or caning.

For consuming methamphetamine, he could have been jailed up to seven years and received up to six strokes of the cane.

First-time offenders convicted of attempting to procure the commission of an indecent act from a child can be jailed for up to seven years or fined up to $10,000, or both. A repeat offender would face a jail term of up to 10 years or fined up to $20,000, or both.

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