Men must leave young girls alone, says judge
Justice Marva McDonald-Bishop said the man’s actions were repulsive: he had decided to exploit the girl sexually when she was 10 and he took advantage of the family relationship between them, which made his behaviour a breach of trust.
The court had to send a strong signal to men that young girls must be left alone, the judge said.
Senior Crown Counsel John Masters, who conducted the case for the Prosecution, noted that the maximum sentence for rape is life imprisonment.
He pointed out that, by going to trial, the man had put the girl through the agony of reliving all that had occurred during that period of her life.
“I saw the girl in the witness box,” the judge said. “She was a distraught child.” The harm was worse because the girl had loved the relative, she indicated.
The situation came to light because the girl’s school grades had dropped and she finally told a member of staff what the relative was doing to her even though she did not want him to.
The judge quoted the girl’s words about the impact on her of what happened. “I’m still ashamed,” she said, and “not able to relate to people. I’m alone.”
Defence Attorney Lucy Organ asked the court to consider the defendant’s age and health problems. The man had never been to prison before. “He feels that due to his advanced age and illness he may die in prison.”
Ms Organ agreed there were some aggravating features to the case, but reminded the court of things that had not happened. There had been no physical injury inflicted, no weapon had been used, no pregnancy or disease had resulted.
There were no other acts of indecency, the attorney said. On one occasion he had asked the girl for oral sex and when she said no, he did not pursue it.
The judge said her sentence had to reflect the seriousness of what the man had done. He had not shown remorse but had suggested that the girl’s accounts were fabrications.
The sentence also had to deter like-minded men. They had to stop and think and realise that using children this way is frowned on by the court and by society in general.
“The court will protect young girls,” she emphasised.
The judge concluded that she did have to take into account the man’s previous good character and the fact that no violence was used. She said the girl was coerced by the relationship.
The risk of the man’s re-offending was rather low, she said. Mitigating factors were not so dramatic as to outweigh all the aggravating features, she indicated. As to concerns about illness, prisoners are not without medical care, she pointed out.
She imposed a term of 13 years for the first offence and 12 years for each of the others, making them all run concurrently.
At the start of the hearing, Mr. Masters asked permission for the press to be present and report the matter, thereby publicising the warning the court wanted to send out.
Justice McDonald-Bishop agreed on the basis that nothing be reported that could lead to the girl’s identification.