Man gets jail, caning for sexually assaulting 11-year-old girl he found on Instagram and giving her drugs

SINGAPORE: A 34-year-old man was sentenced on Monday (Sep 5) to 20 years’ jail and 24 strokes of the cane after sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl and giving her drugs.

Muhammad Hisham Abdul Karim “trawled the Internet” before zeroing in on a primary school student and befriending her via Instagram, the court heard.

He later sexually assaulted her multiple times and gave her Ice – the street name for methamphetamine – to smoke in the back of a lorry.

Hisham pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual assault by penetration of a minor, with another 11 charges taken into consideration.

The court heard that Hisham viewed the Instagram profile of the victim, who was then 11, around May 2017. The victim was a primary school student and made reference to her school in her Instagram biography. She also posted photos of herself wearing her school jersey.

Hisham sent her a friend request and began chatting with her. When the victim viewed Hisham’s Instagram account, she noticed that he had also followed several of her school friends.

Hisham met the victim at a staircase landing in a building sometime before mid-November 2017, according to court documents.

At the staircase landing, he kissed the victim and committed sex acts on her. They met up again that year, with Hisham picking the girl up in his motorcycle before heading to an open-air car park around Woodlands. 

He got the girl to board the back of a covered lorry belonging to a company he worked for, before joining her.

They chatted in the back of the lorry, and Hisham produced a white crystalline substance, telling her it was Ice, a street name for meth. He also gave her a glass ball with a rubber tube and told her to smoke it.

She did so, and Hisham committed sex acts on her before sending her home.

Their relationship later soured and they stopped contacting each other. The offences came to light in February 2020, when the victim attended a session with a case worker and revealed that she had sex with Hisham in 2017.

A police report was lodged and Hisham was arrested.

The court heard that he was previously convicted in 2016 of one count of sexual penetration of a minor and was sentenced to 10 months’ jail. 

Justice Mavis Chionh noted that the victim in the latest case was a vulnerable one, and the offences were “clearly premeditated and deviously planned”.

She said Hisham “trawled the Internet” and “zeroed in on the victim and her primary school friends on Instagram” before initiating contact. He knew “full well” that she was a primary school student, said the judge.

Giving the girl a drug to consume was an aggravating factor as it would have rendered her more vulnerable, said Justice Chionh. 

Hisham also exposed her to the grave risk of sexually transmitted diseases. He admitted to a psychiatrist that he frequented sex workers from 2013 to 2018.

The judge disagreed with the starting point of 11 years’ jail per proceeded charge, saying it should be higher. She noted that the punishment Hisham received in 2016 for his previous crime “did not teach him anything”.

A psychiatrist with the Institute of Mental Health examined Hisham and found that he met the criteria for paedophilic disorder, with a moderate overall risk of sexual reoffending and an “alarming clear escalation” in the chronicity of his sexual offences.

For sexual assault by penetration of a minor under 16, he could have been jailed for between eight and 20 years’ jail, and given at least 12 strokes of the cane.

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