Web Stories Saturday, February 24

SINGAPORE: After noticing a boy at a bus stop, Kenneth Loh Jiahui followed him into the lift at a nearby housing block before showing the 12-year-old an obscene video on his mobile phone.

For his actions last year, Loh was sentenced to five months and two weeks’ jail on Tuesday (Jan 16).

He has since been dismissed from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College East where he worked as a lecturer, teaching students of ages 17 to 25, at the time of his offence.

He earlier pleaded guilty to intentionally causing the underage victim to observe a sexual image for the purpose of causing alarm. The victim cannot be named due to a gag order to protect his identity.

WANTED TO “TEASE AND AROUSE” 

The court heard that Loh was making a delivery in Pasir Ris on the evening of Jun 8, 2023 when he noticed the victim at a bus stop along Pasir Ris Street 21.

Loh saw that he was small-sized. He decided to “tease and arouse” the boy – whom he viewed as an “easy target” – and elicit a reaction from him, the court further heard.

He then followed the boy from the bus stop to the lift lobby of a nearby block. The exact location was redacted from court documents.

While at the lift lobby, Loh accessed a pornographic website on his mobile phone and found a video. They then entered the lift, with Loh pressing the button for the 12th floor and the boy pressing the button for the eighth floor.

Loh then showed the video to the boy and smiled at the boy. He asked if he had watched such videos before, which prompted the boy to shake his head and turn away to face the lift door. Undeterred, Loh stretched his arm around the boy’s shoulder to continue showing him the video.

The boy retreated to the back of the lift and began using his phone to appear busy. However, Loh followed him with the video still playing on his phone.

When they got to the eighth floor, the boy started to leave but Loh attempted to show him the video once more by putting his phone closer to the boy’s face.

The boy avoided him and exited the lift. He told his mother about the incident when he reached home.

After she called for police assistance, Loh was identified through closed-circuit television camera footage and arrested.

“COMMITMENT TO WRONGDOING”

The prosecution sought between five and six months’ jail, noting that parliament had expressed the need to enforce harsher penalties for sexual offences against minors under the age of 14.

In sentencing Loh, District Judge Elton Tan said Loh’s persistence “demonstrated a certain commitment to wrongdoing” and a “certain absence of remorse” at the time.

“He suspected the victim would be in a confined space and probably alone. The victim had very little means of avoiding him. All of this facilitated (Loh’s) efforts to cause the victim to watch the video,” the judge added.

The judge also rejected defence counsel SS Dhillon’s argument that Loh’s adjustment disorder with depressed mood should be given mitigatory weight.

The disorder was not a mental illness but a “normal psychological reaction to the vicissitudes of life”, according to a psychiatrist’s report. It did not affect Loh’s awareness of the nature and wrongfulness of his actions.

Loh could have been jailed up to three years or fined, or both.

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