Not guilty plea made girl ‘double victim’
After choosing trial by judge
alone, a local man was found guilty and sentenced to 16 years imprisonment for
rape of a girl of lower primary-school age.
Justice Roy Jones found that the
man had raped the child on two occasions and committed an indecent assault
against her on two others. He imposed separate sentences but made then run
The judge rejected the man’s claim
that there was a conspiracy to make up allegations against him so that his wife
would have a reason to leave him.
The judge reminded himself that the
man did not have to prove his innocence – the Prosecution, conducted by Crown
Counsel John Masters, had to prove his guilt.
Because of the girl’s age, she was
not required to give evidence under oath. Instead, the judge asked her
questions and determined that she was intelligent and understood the need to
speak the truth.
In summing up the evidence, Justice
Jones pointed out that the girl had been subjected to rigorous
cross-examination by Defence Attorney Nicholas Dixey, but she remained
credible. Her evidence had the ring of truth, he said.
The girl was not related to the
man, but was related to his wife. He had children and she went to his house.
The offences occurred over a
two-month period. The girl said the man would tell her to go into another room.
Using childish words, she said he would put his penis into her behind. When she
cried, he said he would beat her if she told anyone.
The Penal Code defines rape as
sexual intercourse, either vaginal or anal, with another person who does not
consent. But consent is not a factor when the victim
is younger than 16.
Justice Jones reminded himself that
the Evidence Law no longer requires corroboration of a child’s evidence. In
some cases, however, when a judge is sitting as judge and jury, it would be
wise to look for corroborating material.
In this case, the domestic helper
gave evidence of her observations. She said the man would be in a room with the
girl with the door locked. On one occasion she saw the girl crying, on the
floor with her school book, and wanting to go home. The helper said the man
started to curse her.
On another occasion the man and
girl were in the bathroom for a half hour and when she came out her eyes were
The judge found that the man did
rape and indecently assault the girl, under the guide of assisting her with
homework and bathing her.
The maximum sentence for rape is
Mr. Dixey conceded that the
starting point for rape sentences is 10 to 12 years and asked the court to consider
the absence of numerous aggravating features.
He said it was not a campaign of rape over months or years and there was
no evidence of physical injury.
“This is a tragedy,” Mr. Dixey
agreed. “The court has decided it is a tragedy of his own making.” He said the
defendant would carry the stigma of these convictions
for the rest of his life.
Justice Jones referred to the Cayman Islands
Court of Appeal recent judgment concerning aggravating factors in rape case (Caymanian
Compass, 30 December 2009).
He cited the age of the girl, the
fact that she was vulnerable, and the fact that the man made her a “double victim” because she had to relive the incidents again
in telling the court about them.
The judge said he had to pass a
sentence that would reflect the seriousness of the offences, express society’s
abhorrence and protect the public.
But, he added, “The court should
not deprive you of all hope. I believe you can still make a contribution to
society on your release.”
Names and other
details have been omitted from this report so as not to lead to the identity of