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Judicial CP - July 2016

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The Straits Times, 14 July 2016, p.B2

'Fake cop' rapist

Man jailed 12½ years, gets 11 strokes of cane

Court finds accused's version of events 'completely unbelievable, incredible and inconsistent'

By Selina Lum

Muhammad Firman Jumali Chew

A former pizza delivery man, who posed as a policeman and raped a 16-year-old girl after catching her having sex with her boyfriend in a HDB stairwell, was yesterday sentenced to 12½ years' jail and 11 strokes of the cane.

Muhammad Firman Jumali Chew, 30, looked dejected as he was first found guilty of, then sentenced for, three charges of rape, sexual assault and impersonating a police officer.

His wife and two-year-old daughter were present in the High Court.

During his trial, Firman gave a version of events that was at odds with the accounts of the prosecution witnesses.

He presented himself as a victim of the girl's sexual advances, accused a good Samaritan who had confronted him of being a pervert, and alleged police brutality.

Yesterday, Judicial Commissioner Hoo Sheau Peng rejected Firman's version, saying it was "completely unbelievable, incredible and inconsistent" with objective evidence and the testimony of other witnesses. On the other hand, the victim's testimony was "clear, coherent and consistent".

The victim and her then-boyfriend testified that Firman told them he was a policeman and asked for their identity cards after he saw them having sex at Block 362, Woodlands Avenue 5 on Oct 9, 2013. He then told the boy to leave before taking the girl to Block 359, where he raped her.

A passer-by, lift technician Tung Shue Kiong, said he sensed that something was amiss when he saw Firman and the girl.

After getting the story from the boyfriend, Mr Tung searched five blocks of flats and eventually confronted Firman at Woodlands bus interchange.

The girl made a police report that night. Firman's identity was established from semen on her clothes.

Press cutting

It emerged yesterday that he has past convictions for housebreaking, theft and fraudulent possession of property.

During his rape trial, Firman claimed that he had tailed Mr Tung to Block 362 and caught him crouching at the stairwell, touching himself while peeping at the couple.

Firman claimed that at Block 359, it was the girl who led him up the stairs, pulled down his zipper and violated him against his will.

Yesterday, the judicial commissioner dismissed Firman's allegations against Mr Tung as "unsubstantiated" and said his claims of being tortured by the police after his arrest were "unfounded".

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz sought 13½ years' jail and 11 strokes of the cane. She argued that he had acted with "methodical, cold and calculated premeditation", noting how he had walked backwards into a lift to evade the surveillance camera.

"The evidence reveals a guile and cunning sexual predator who manipulated an innocent teenager into satisfying his depraved lust," said the DPP.

Despite overwhelming evidence against him, said the DPP, Firman made the victim relive her ordeal in a trial and made "preposterous assertions" against her.

"That the accused had no reservations concocting a defence that scandalised the very girl he had so cruelly and callously assaulted, demonstrates a complete and utter lack of remorse," said the DPP.

Firman's lawyer, Mr Ravinderpal Singh, asked for 10 years' jail, noting his low IQ and his delusional beliefs of persecution and jealousy.

After the sentencing, Firman's wife, Madam Marivic Advincula Manlapaz, 32, had tears in her eyes. She declined to comment.

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