Young girls deserve protection; they deserve to expect that the courts will impose sentences with deterrent effect when adult males prey upon them, Mr. Justice Alexander Henderson said last Friday.
After considering the facts of the case before him and impressive references on behalf of the defendant, the judge handed down a term of 18 months imprisonment for defilement. He also recommended deportation and ordered that the girl’s medical costs be paid.
Costs were incurred because the girl, 14 at the time, had become pregnant as a result of the incident leading to charges of rape and defilement. She was taken off-island and the pregnancy was terminated.
Mr. Justice Henderson spent time exploring the notion of forgiveness because of reference letters from the victim’s aunts and uncle.
He also noted the defendant had been engaged in a romantic way with the girl’s aunt and became acquainted with the girl through that relationship. Letters indicated that the defendant and the aunt still intended to marry. The defendant could end up being the uncle of the young girl.
The judge accepted that the family in general was very supportive of the defendant. But, he pointed out, it was relatively easy to forgive someone who had not harmed them personally. They were forgiving him for harming someone else.
But there was nothing from the girl herself or her mother, the judge noted. He asked if anyone knew how the victim felt.
Crown Counsel Scott Wilson told the court that the girl and her mother were fully prepared to give evidence in the man’s trial. He said he had hoped there would be a victim-impact statement done, but none was.
Mr. Wilson commented that the full impact of the incident on the girl might not be apparent for several years. The judge agreed that this view was supported by scientific literature.
Earlier, Mr. Wilson explained that the defendant initially denied having any sexual contact with the girl. But a DNA test was performed on the embryonic material that was evacuated from the complainant. The test showed a 99.99 per cent probability that the defendant was the father.
On the day his trial was to start, the defendant indicated he was willing to plead to defilement. Mr. Wilson said it was felt unnecessary to put the girl through giving evidence in a trial over the single issue of consent, because of the sentencing powers the court has.
The Penal Code provides that a person who commits rape is liable to imprisonment for life. A person who unlawfully and carnally knows a girl between the ages of 12 and 16 is liable to imprisonment for 12 years.
In this case, the author of the social inquiry report had recommended probation, a fine or suspended sentence.
One reference letter spoke of the defendant as a humble, passive man who attended church regularly. The judge wondered how the defendant, 25, had come to impregnate a 14 year old.
Defence Attorney John Furniss said the defendant gave in to the temptation of the moment.
According to the facts, the man and the girl saw each other at family gatherings. He knew how old she was. On one occasion he told her he liked her and gave her his phone number. Some months later she did phone him.
On the day of the incident he went to the girl’s home on the premise that he was borrowing some tools. He asked her who was home and she told him nobody else.
He then began touching her. She turned and ran to her bedroom. He followed and the offence occurred.
In passing sentence, the judge said it appeared to have been an isolated event. The defendant had a good employment history and no previous convictions.