Mark Charles Bodden was sentenced in Grand Court on Tuesday to 16 months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to two counts of defilement.
The offenses occurred within the same month at the girl’s home. She was in her early teens at the time and Bodden was 10 years older.
Justice Alastair Malcolm directed that no details be published that could lead to the identification of the victim. The restrictions also applied to civilian witnesses.
The offenses came to light after the girl’s mother received certain information. She spoke to the girl, who denied the allegation. The mother subsequently saw messages on the girl’s phone, which led her to complain to authorities.
Bodden was interviewed and admitted the offenses. Justice Malcolm noted that when the matter came to court, Bodden pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
Other mitigating features included his lack of previous convictions. There was expert evidence that he was vulnerable to any female who expressed interest in him or attraction to him, while his concrete thought processes and problem-solving techniques could predispose him to impaired decision making.
Aggravating features included the difference in age and Bodden’s experience as a married man. Referring to the range of sentences in previous cases cited by Crown counsel Greg Walcolm, the judge pointed out that Bodden was not a teenager romantically involved with someone close to his own age.
Justice Malcolm noted the statement on tariffs issued in 2002 by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, who had said, “The courts regard all sexual offenses as very serious and all too prevalent.”
The tariff sentence was five years at a time when the maximum was seven years.
The maximum is now 12 years.
Justice Malcolm also quoted from a 2014 ruling by Justice Charles Quin: “It is my view that the Grand Court should take judicial notice of the deeply disturbing fact that the offense of defilement of a girl under 16 is becoming increasingly prevalent.”
In Bodden’s case, defense attorney John Furniss had urged the court to consider a suspended sentence with supervision, in part because of progress in his personal circumstances and partly because of the passage of time since the offending behavior.
The judge said a substantial portion of the delay had been caused by the defendant failing to come to court or not keeping appointments as directed by the court.
He said he considered two years to be the appropriate sentence, but then gave a one-third discount for Bodden’s guilty pleas. The result was a prison term of 16 months.