Friday, December 8, 2023
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Brunei Town

Local dealt heavy blow for unlawful ‘companionship’

Fadley Faisal

The Intermediate Court yesterday handed a 16-year jail sentence with 12 strokes of the cane to a 44-year-old local man who pleaded guilty to two charges of committing statutory rape against a 13-year-old girl.

The man, whose identity is withheld to protect the victim, raped the teen at a house sometime between January to August. A second count states that he raped the victim at the same house again, either on August 17 or 18.

On handing sentence, Judge Harnita Zelda Skinner said that the case was disturbing, with the aggravating factors highlighted by the prosecution stating that the defendant had sexual intercourse with the 13-year-old twice, which was tantamount to rape as the victim is under the age of 14.

“It doesn’t matter that the relationship was romantic,” she added.

The court further considered its decision by reflecting on the fact that the victim “is a special needs student requiring guidance in academic, living and social skills. The victim, however, is not classified as being mentally impaired.

“The aggravating factors are her tender age and that it happened twice. He took advantage of her vulnerability by engaging sexual intercourse with her instead of protecting her”, she added.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Rozaimah Abdul Rahman’s facts of the case stated that the defendant is married to a local with three children.

During the offences, the defendant was in the process of divorce. He was residing with his parents and one of his children.

The first incident reports that the defendant’s child had introduced the father to the victim, while on a video call. The child, who is a former school friend to the victim, said that the father was in search of a female companion. The defendant and victim then exchanged personal details.

Since the video call, the defendant has continued to be in contact with the victim, personally befriending her. That friendship soon turned romantic.

They decided to meet for the first time, with the victim informing her grandmother that she was headed out for an afternoon jog. The defendant picked up the victim and they went on a date.

The defendant brought the victim back home and had intercourse with her. The pair continued to be lovers, often staying in contact.

The victim told the defendant’s child of the relationship, but never mentioned anything about it to her paternal grandparents – whom she has resided with since the age of five, following her parents’ divorce – nor any other family member or friend.

In the second incident, the victim, stressed out over her mother’s deteriorating health, had called up the defendant, asking to be picked up at a junction near her grandparents’ house. She took with her a bag containing clothes and belongings.

The defendant picked her up before heading back to his parents’ home.

On realising the victim had not returned home, her grandfather lodged a police report.

While at the defendant’s parents’ house, the defendant and victim shared a bedroom. The defendant’s child had also seen the victim in the house, day and night.

This was when the defendant again, had sex with the victim.

The police arrested the defendant at his parents’ home and returned the victim to her grandparents.


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