Man threatened to kill girl’s mother if she told
Devon Alanzo Stewart was sentenced on Thursday to four years and nine months in prison after being found guilty of gross indecency with a 7-year-old girl.
Mr. Stewart had chosen to be tried by judge alone and Justice Timothy Owen delivered his guilty verdict last September, remanding the defendant in custody. Sentencing was adjourned until November for a social inquiry report and victim impact report, but then could not take place. Last week, Justice Owen handed down the sentence via a video link from the U.K.
He noted that the maximum sentence penalty for gross indecency is 12 years. Sentencing guidelines indicate a starting point of five years with a sentencing range of three to eight years, the maximum possible sentence being for the worst possible offense. Justice Owen said this case involved the infliction of serious psychological and physical harm by a man who had been trusted by the family concerned.
The man threatened to kill the girl’s mother if she told anyone. She did not tell, until days later. It came to light when the girl’s mother went to bathe her and the child complained of pain. The mother took her to the hospital, where the girl told a nurse what had happened. The nurse told the mother and police were contacted.
Meanwhile, a doctor confirmed that the girl had a sexually transmitted infection and the appropriate treatment was administered.
Six days before he touched the girl, Mr. Stewart had been diagnosed with that same infection. In finding the defendant guilty, Justice Owen said the medical evidence was “extremely strong corroboration” of the girl’s account. He found no credible basis for undermining the girl’s evidence and said it would be an extraordinary coincidence that the person she accused was, in fact, infected.
A victim impact report indicated that the girl appeared to have been greatly affected by what had happened, the judge said. She was unable to put into words how she felt. At first she cried constantly, reacting non-verbally. Recently she has shown some improvement but shows some signs of distress when the incident is mentioned. The judge said she appeared to have suffered serious psychological trauma.
He told the defendant he was taking into account the precise nature of the sexual assault, noting that it happened only once. “The threat to kill her mother was an integral aspect of the abuse,” he said.
Mr. Stewart’s own background included a troubled childhood, but there was no mitigation in that factor because he continued to maintain that he was wrongly convicted.
Moreover, the judge pointed out, at the time of this offense he had been on bail for an alleged similar offense involving a different child. In that earlier case he was found not guilty. Therefore, at the time of his sentencing, he was a man with no previous convictions. The judge took into account his age, now 58, and gave him a slight deduction, starting at five years and reducing that sentence to four years nine months.
Justice Owen discussed with Crown counsel Greg Walcolm, who had prosecuted the case, and defense attorney Alex Davies whether he should impose a Sexual Offense Prevention Order. Mr. Walcolm advised that only one such order has been made in Cayman since the provision went into effect. Mr. Davies expressed reservation on the basis of enforceability, since Mr. Stewart intended to establish contact with his “somewhat estranged family in Jamaica, policing that might be difficult,” the attorney noted.
The judge said he would adjourn this aspect of the case until he received further submissions from both counsel.