A 31-year-old Indian man was sentenced to 13 years in jail and 12 strokes of the cane after he pleaded guilty to one charge of sexual assault of a minor and two charges of attempted statutory rape, the media reported.

Udhayakumar Dhakshinamoorthy, a minimart worker courted a 12-year-old girl with gifts and called her his “wife”, grooming her to engage in intrusive sexual acts with him over a period of three months in 2016, The New Paper reported on Friday.

Announcing the sentence at the High Court on Thursday, Judicial Commissioner Pang Khang Chau said that Udhayakumar had exploited the innocence and naivety of the girl and morally corrupted her.

Four other charges were also considered during the hearing, the report said.

The offence, which took place between September and December 2016, came to light after Dhakshinamoorthy’s pregnant girlfriend discovered a nude video of the minor girl on his phone.

The court heard that when Dhakshinamoorthy first asked the girl for sex after taking her to the staircase of a block of flats, she told him she was not sure what sex was, to which he responded that he would teach her, the daily reported.

The man admitted that he tried to have sex with the girl on two occasions, but failed.

After his second foiled attempt, he gave the girl 50 Singapore dollars, ended their “relationship” and no longer allowed her to take things from the minimart for free.

“This proved his previous generosity was merely a facade to get the girl to have sex with him,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Gail Wong in sentencing arguments.

Dhakshinamoorthy began working at the minimart in a housing estate in September 2016. During their first chat, he asked the girl for a nude selfie of herself, and she complied, according to the report.

After this, he would let her take ice cream, toys and tidbits from the minimart without paying. The man also took the minor to various places to engage in “petting”.

“He used to give her between 5 and 10 Singapore dollars after each session. This escalated to more intrusive sexual acts, including attempts at sexual intercourse,” the court heard.

He also started referring to the minor as his “wife” and told her he wanted to marry her, while the girl called him “uncle”.

During the period, Dhakshinamoorthy also started seeing a woman. In May 2017, while checking his phone, the woman found the video of the minor girl in her school uniform exposing herself. Later, she lodged a police report against Dhakshinamoorthy.