A Grand Court jury returned a verdict of not guilty in a recent trial of a young man accused of defilement.
The defendant, represented by Attorney Ben Tonner, was 19 at the time of the incident that led to the charge.
The girl was 12.
The Penal Code provides that it is sufficient defence to the charge that the defendant had reasonable cause to believe and in fact did believe that the girl was 16 or above.
In this case, the young man told the court that he first met the girl when he was leaving a night club around 11 or 11.30pm.
She was in the night club parking lot with other girls. She was dressed up and wearing make-up and a wig.
The second time they met, he collected her by car from outside another building, also late at night. They went to a residence in another district and intercourse took place.
Between the two meetings, they had spoken on the phone several times. The defendant said she told him she was 16.
The girl’s evidence to the court was that she had told him her true age. She indicated that, by the time of the incident, she considered them to be boyfriend/girlfriend.
The jury also heard from two police officers, who said they had stopped the car in which the defendant and the girl were riding that night. They spoke to the girl and she told them she was 17. There was no reason not to let the car and occupants proceed.
A complaint against the defendant was lodged after the girl’s mother questioned her about why she had not come home until the early hours of the morning.
Mrs. Justice Priya Levers accepted a majority verdict of 6-1 after sufficient time had passed and the foreman indicated that no amount of further deliberation was likely to change anyone’s mind.