Man assaulted girl, 16

Jeffrey Barnes was sentenced to 18 months in prison last week after pleading guilty to indecent assault.

The charge arose from an incident in March after Barnes, 30, and the girl, 16, went with another couple to a bar in George Town. Later the other couple was dropped off, and Barnes was taking the girl home when the offence occurred.

In passing sentence, Justice Algernon Smith said the only aggravating feature that had been mentioned to him about the offence was Barnes’ previous convictions, which included one for rape. He had been convicted in 2001, sentenced to 10 years in prison and recently released. Crown Counsel Tricia Hutchinson had asked him to bear this fact in mind.

Defence Attorney John Furniss listed mitigating factors, which included Barnes’ guilty plea.

“By that plea, one would be reasonable in concluding that the accused was penitent or showed some sign of contrition. He did not waste the court’s time and, of course, there was no need for the victim to go through what I might describe as the crucible of cross-examination,” Justice Smith said.

Further, there was no breach of trust involved and the girl was “just about the age of consent,” he noted. The judge said it was alleged that Barnes used force but there was no allegation of violence “if one can distinguish between force and violence.”

Both counsel had referred to sentences in previous cases, but Justice Smith pointed out that many of the cases cited involved victims under the age of consent. He indicated that the most relevant case was one in which the victim was in her 20s and the offence involved oral sex, as this one did. That defendant received an 18-month sentence, with three related terms made to run concurrently. He was 26 at the time and of previous good character.

Barnes had been scheduled to go on trial starting 13 December for abduction, rape, indecent assault and threatening violence – all charges relating to the same incident. However, after he entered the guilty plea, Ms Hutchison said the Crown would not proceed or offer evidence on the other three charges. She explained this was the result of her discussions with the complainant and the Solicitor General, plus a review of statements and the preliminary inquiry record.

Mr. Furniss noted that Barnes has been in custody since his arrest on 30 March and he asked the time be taken into account.

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