Sixteen years was not excessive, Court of Appeal says
The Court of Appeal has upheld a sentence of 16 years imposed after a Grand Court judge found a local man guilty of raping a child twice and indecently assaulting her on two other occasions.
The man had claimed during his trial that the allegations against him were the result of a conspiracy between his wife and family helper, so that his wife would have a reason to leave the marriage.
After his conviction, he sought leave from the Court of Appeal to bring new evidence. He wanted to call a fellow prison inmate who would tell the court what he had been told by the appellant’s wife. The court refused permission, explaining that would be hearsay. The court also indicated that the wife’s evidence was clear from her own testimony during trial.
After dismissing an appeal against conviction, the court heard submissions on sentence.
In announcing the decision, Justice Sir John Chadwick reviewed the principles a judge should have in mind when sentencing for rape.
He also noted that when Grand Court Chief Justice Anthony Smellie set guidelines in 2002, he referred to rape as a crime “which has become alarmingly prevalent”.
The Cayman starting point for rape sentences was between 10 and 12 years, substantially higher than in England and Wales, where it was five to eight years. That range was for a single act by a single offender against an adult victim.
UK authorities provided lists of aggravating features that were useful to judges. The presence of any one of them would provide an uplift of sentence by 50 to 60 per cent.
Applying that uplift to Cayman, any aggravating feature would raise a sentence of 10 years to 15 or 16, the court president noted.
In the case being appealed, the defendant was a person in whom the child had placed trust. She was young, of lower primary school age.
The defendant was found guilty of two rapes over the course of a couple of months and two incidents of indecent assault. Those assaults, in which the man forced the child to perform oral sex, were obviously a further aggravating factor.
These aggravating factors could be expected to take the sentence into the 15-year range at least and there were no mitigating factors.
Then, by going to trial, the man forced his victim to relive the events, being questioned and undergoing cross-examination.
Finally, Justice Chadwick pointed out, the offender had a previous conviction for indecent assault.
Speaking for himself, Justice Elliot Mottley and Justice Ian Forte, he concluded, “We find it impossible to say the sentence of 16 years was excessive [much less manifestly excessive] … This was a case that required a starting point of 15 years.”
The court had no reason to interfere with the sentence, he emphasised to the attorneys involved.
The trial judge imposed 16 years for each of the rapes and three years for each of the indecent assaults, but made them run concurrently.