A man raped a woman after breaking into her apartment last year while on bail and awaiting sentencing for an earlier indecent assault and burglary, a court heard last week.
Okeno George Solomon pleaded guilty to committing rape and aggravated burglary in the early hours of Sept. 13, 2017.
Mr. Solomon, 24, had earlier gone to trial in Summary Court for indecent assault and burglary, which had occurred in December 2015, when he was on a suspended sentence for burglary. In August 2017, Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez found him guilty of burglary and indecent assault. Mr. Solomon was bailed to return for sentencing on a future date.
At a Grand Court hearing last week, Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson pointed to the similarities in the two cases. In 2015, Mr. Solomon entered a residence at night. The female complainant was asleep in bed. She awoke when she felt someone touching her. She saw a figure and that person put a hand over her mouth. She bit him and he ran off.
She realized who it was – Mr. Solomon had been a friend of one of her relatives. She had known him about three years. She told her mother, who called police. Mr. Solomon was arrested and stood trial.
Mr. Ferguson then recounted details from the September 2017 incident. He said the woman was alone in her apartment around 1 a.m. She was in her nightclothes, with a blanket covering her. She was working on her laptop, on her couch in the living room, with the TV on. The couch was near a sliding glass door leading to the patio.
When the woman looked up toward the patio, she saw a man with a covering over his head, wearing gloves and holding a knife.
The man lunged at her and told her not to make noise or he would use the knife. She struggled with him and received a graze on her arm. He ordered her to turn over on her stomach and he bent her arms behind her. He tried to gag her with electrical tape, but then wrapped it around her face instead. He bound her ankles and wrists. He then rummaged through the apartment.
When the woman started to cough and have an asthma attack, the intruder removed the tape from her mouth and told her that if she screamed he would kill her. She begged him to take whatever he wanted but not to harm her.
He used his knife to cut off her underwear, the court heard, and raped her twice, using a condom both times.
Mr. Ferguson told Justice Marlene Carter, “It was the first condom that the offender left at the scene which resulted in the only and vital piece of evidence which connected him with this heinous and vile act.” DNA from the condom was tested and Mr. Solomon’s profile was found.
After the second rape, the intruder continued ransacking the apartment. Items he took included phones and he demanded passwords. He allowed the woman to keep her personal phone, but took her work phones. He took her car keys and loaded the items he had taken into the car.
When he left, the woman locked herself in the bathroom and called police. Officers arrived and took her to the Cayman Islands Hospital.
Mr. Ferguson said CCTV footage enabled police to track the vehicle into the George Town area, where a man resembling Mr. Solomon was seen parking the vehicle near the old government administration building and leaving it there.
From the night of the assault, the victim’s life had changed, Mr. Ferguson said. She was no longer the confident, self-assured, high-functioning person she had been, he summarized from the victim impact report. Now she was self-conscious, nervous, unable to work at her previous high level. She felt ashamed and vulnerable. She was reluctant to date. She was taking medication for panic and it was clear she suffered mental injury, he told the court.
The prosecutor then provided some background on the defendant, saying Mr. Solomon blamed his actions on consuming cocaine. He had told police he was on a burglary spree when he ended up at the victim’s apartment. He accepted most of what she had said, but he did not remember most of the night.
He said he did not use force, but told the writer of his social inquiry report, “The victim has no reason to lie about anything.”
Mr. Ferguson concluded by noting that the report said Mr. Solomon’s risk of re-offending was “very high.” He suggested the appropriate sentence was 15 years or more.
Defense attorney Neil Kumar spoke in mitigation pertaining to the Summary Court matters and urged the court to consider the totality of sentences to be imposed. Attorney Prathna Bodden spoke about the rape/aggravated burglary. She pointed out that Mr. Solomon’s pleas had saved the victim “the upset” of coming to court, calling that factor “very significant” because the woman did not have to come back and relive those “awful” two hours.
Mr. Solomon had been failed by the system, she asserted. A report in 2012 indicated he had mental health issues.
Ms. Bodden accepted that a sexual harm prevention order could be properly granted in this case.
Justice Carter indicated there was a lot to consider because she was dealing with three sets of sentences – the suspended sentence, the Summary Court sentence, and the sentence for rape.
She adjourned sentencing until Friday, April 6, and continued the defendant’s remand in custody.