Indecent assault a year later adds 15 months to sentence
After a jury found a man guilty of raping his stepdaughter when she was 12 and indecently assaulting her when she was 13, he was sentenced last week to a total of nine years and three months imprisonment.
In passing sentence, Justice Malcolm Swift pointed out that the jury had found the man not guilty of all other charges against him. “The jury did not consider you a serial offender,” he told the man, “so I have to sentence you in a particular way.” He said he had to treat the offences as two isolated incidents rather than a course of conduct, in light of the jury’s decisions. He noted that the incident of indecent assault involved introducing the girl to oral sex.
Crown prosecutor Tanya Lobban said the aggravating features of the case were the age of the girl and the relationship of trust; the man would have been expected to protect her and the girl should have been able to trust her mother’s husband.
The jury heard that the rape occurred while the girl’s mother was off-island for medical treatment. She was told not to report the matter because no one cared enough to believe her and she would look like a liar.
Local guidelines provide for a tariff of 10 to 12 years for rape when the defendant has been found guilty after a trial. Ms Lobban said the presence of any one aggravating feature would take that to 15 years or more, with a further uplift if there were other aggravating features.
Defense attorney Lucy Organ pointed out that although the element of threat had been mentioned, no specific threats had been made. She argued that the aggravating features stemmed from the same thing – the man and girl lived in the same house. She urged the court to be careful of the totality of sentences.
She said some of the defendant’s problems arose through alcohol, but he had abstained since being in custody. He suffered from hypertension and reported having strokes in the past, alleging that these affected his memory.
Both counsel and the judge referred to a victim impact statement, which reported the girl’s feelings of fear and anger. She has struggled to rebuild her self-esteem, but understood that what had happened was not her fault. She was doing well in school.
A social inquiry report indicated that the man did not accept responsibility for the offences.
Justice Swift said it seemed to him that drink was behind the man’s behavior, but that was not a mitigating feature. He did note that there had been no ejaculation, no weapon, no violence, no physical injury and no repetition (being true to the jury’s verdicts).
He considered the age of the victim the most serious factor. He said he was taking 10 years as his starting point and increasing that to 12 years. Then he was reducing that to eight years because of the mitigating factors.
The 15 months for indecent assault is to run consecutively, for a total of nine years and three months.