Stepfather gets eight years for rape

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.

2 COMMENTS

  1. NOTE TO EDITOR: Lets try this comment AGAIN. I tried posting it on AUG 21. As usual, my comments are NEVER printed although I’ve emailed you on 2 occasions about this.

    Comment:

    What a disgrace that it took a SECOND judge to put this child predator away for ANY length of time. The former judge only gave him 6 months. His name should be put on a public registry for sex offenders.

    In the US, sex offender registers have been made public for about 10 years now.
    I believe in the UK, politicians are still trying to create a fair way of public documentation of sex offenders. After doing some research, it appears that many states in the US already have some systems in place. For example, the list may be divided into three categories of sex offenders, from 1 (those posing the least threat) to 3 (high risk). Each level places varying requirements on the offenders. The lowest-risk offenders are not published on the internet, while files on category 2 and 3 offenders are published complete with photograph, name, list of offenses, address and maps showing proximity to schools.

    However, with public registration many believe that can lead to vigilantism. In the US when they implemented the laws that publicly exposed sex offenders, they also implemented laws that say it is illegal to use information from the sex offender databases to commit a crime or harass an offender or his family. In some US states five year prison sentences and/or fines (up to 50,000) can be sentenced on a person who harasses/harms the offender/offender’s family. These harsh penalties and efficient enforcement mean that vigilantism is rare.

    This system can also work effectively here in the Cayman Islands. As a parent and teacher, I strongly believe in public sex offender registries. I also agree that with a public registry system, laws that protect the offender from the public vigilantism should be implemented as well. If society is made aware of the dangers and if we trust that the judicial system is doing their part, then that is the best we can hope for. However, seeing how Magistrate Hall passed down a lowly sentence of 6 months to a child molester, does not give us a lot of confidence in the judicial system when it comes to protecting the children of our community.

    Quoting from the recent article, The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sentenced recently by Cayman Islands Chief Magistrate Nova Hall. The sentence sparked public outrage. An online petition calling for a review gathered more than 400 signatures within a few days. Because of light sentences and refusal to publish the offender’s name obviously leads to a breakdown in trust between the public and the criminal justice system.

    The only way to solve this problem is to demand that laws be implemented by the ‘leaders’ of our country and followed by the judicial system. With offender records more transparent (with the level of offense that was committed by the offender) along with penalties for vigilantism conduct, a system of justice involving child predators would be secure. The voters must speak up NOW so this can be put on the next legislative agenda. How many more sex offenders will be allowed to roam our neighborhoods, parks, public venues and school grounds before we can offer the children of our community protection from these predators?

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