SINGAPORE – A 59-year-old jobless man was sentenced to 23 years’ jail on Wednesday (Aug 14) for sexually abusing two young daughters of a friend who had taken him in.

The man, who was allowed to sleep in the same room as the two girls, started preying on the older girl when she was nine and carried on the abuse until she was 13.

He also began abusing the younger girl when she turned nine.

On separate occasions, he made them perform sex acts on him, either in the bedroom or in his car after they returned from outings. The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victims, pleaded guilty to three charges of aggravated sexual assault by penetration in January.

Seven other charges for various sex offences were considered during sentencing.

The jail term included one year in lieu of caning, as the man cannot undergo the corporal punishment as he is above the age of 50.

The High Court heard that the man, who lived in Malaysia and travelled to Singapore to do odd jobs, had known the victims’ father for 20 years.

The girls’ father often asked him for financial help. The father also asked him to help look after his family while he was remanded in prison.

In 2011, the man, after divorcing his wife, began staying with the family on weekends and used their flat as his registered mailing address.

He slept on a mattress between the two girls in their room, with the permission of their father.

He joked with them and hugged them, bought them gifts, including a mobile phone for the older girl, and went on outings with them.

The older girl even felt that he treated her better than her parents because he listened when she confided in him about her problems in school.

That year, he began sexually assaulting the older girl. He touched her and asked her to perform oral sex on him, while the younger girl was asleep.

In 2013, after a family outing, the man asked the younger girl to accompany him to park his car.

After parking at the deserted top floor of the multi-storey carpark, he touched the girl, who was in the front passenger seat, and told her to perform oral sex on him.

The man warned her not to tell anyone about what had happened.

In 2015, the older girl tried to tell her parents about the sexual acts after the man made her perform oral sex on him.

Court documents said her parents did not act on the information as they did not understand her.

That year, she learnt in school that what the accused had done was wrong. However, she did not go to the police as she was worried about the consequences for the man.

It was only in 2017 that the offences came to light, when the older girl was placed at the Pertapis Centre for Women & Girls after displaying suicidal tendencies.

She revealed to a child protection officer that she had been sexually abused and a police report was lodged.