A clear message must be sent out to people who would interfere sexually with young girls, Mr. Justice Karl Harrison said on Friday.
He then imposed a sentence of five years imprisonment on Dwight Anthony ‘Keith’ Plummer, who was found guilty last month on two counts each of defilement and taking a girl from the lawful care and custody of her parents without their permission.
Plummer was 29 at the time of the offences; the girl was not quite 15½. Defilement is carnal knowledge of a girl younger than 16.
Defence Attorney Menelik Miller said the offences did not warrant a custodial sentence. The defendant would not have found himself in court if the incidents had happened a few months later, Mr. Miller submitted.
He urged the court to consider the offences as a technical breach of the law, taking into account the relative maturity of the girl.
Mr. Miller submitted three letters of reference. They described Plummer as hard-working, reliable and personable; a man who cared about family, community and helping others.
He also handed up a Court of Appeal decision indicating that the sentencing court could take into account other circumstances or results that flow from conviction. These included financial ruin, loss of job and reputation, impact on the family.
Plummer, who was on work permit, now faced the possibility of deportation. There would be extreme financial pressures and his family would suffer.
The defendant had not been in any position of trust as far as the girl was concerned, so that was not an aggravating factor, Mr. Miller indicated. Plummer had been acquainted with the girl’s family, but the level of familiarity was not great.
Even on the Crown’s own case, the girl’s actions had all been voluntary, Mr. Miller pointed out.
Cases cited by him and Crown Counsel Elisabeth Lees had drawn sentences of two, five and six years. Mr. Justice Harrison observed that all three defendants in those matters had pleaded guilty. Plummer had pleaded not guilty, as was his right, but a jury found him guilty on all counts.
Before passing sentence, the judge referred to Mr. Miller’s mitigation and a social inquiry report.
He said the court took a particularly serious view of the way the offences were committed. According to the facts the jury accepted, the girl was taken from her parents’ home late at night to Plummer’s house, where he had sexual intercourse with her.
The judge said he took into consideration Plummer’s previous good character, his good references and the fact that he had lived here since 1997.
He noted that the probation officer who prepared the report spoke of Plummer’s continued denial that he had molested the girl.
The convictions meant the end of the defendant’s working career in Cayman and likely deportation. They meant inability to support his family and disgrace in the community, particularly because of his Christian background and involvement in his church.
But girls under 16 must be protected from men who would prey upon them and indulge in sexual activities, the judge said.
He had to consider the gravity of the offences, the degree of harm they were likely to have on the girl, plus the need to deter others from similar offences.
The sentence on each count of taking a girl from lawful care was two years; on each count of defilement, five years. All sentences will run concurrently, for a total of five years.
Mr. Miller gave oral notice of appeal.
As reported previously, Plummer had been employed as logistics supervisor for Cayman Free Press.