Rape conviction and 13-year sentence upheld

The Court of Appeal has upheld a rape conviction and a 13-year prison sentence against Marlon Porter.

Porter was convicted by a jury in October 2017, on charges of rape, assault occasioning bodily harm, and causing intentional harassment, alarm and distress, and sentenced in February 2018.

During the Grand Court trial, the victim told the court that she and Porter had known each other, and on the night of the incident she had asked him for a ride to a gas station to purchase food.

Instead, she said, Porter took her to a dark, secluded area where he raped and assaulted her. The court heard that afterwards, Porter dragged her out of the vehicle and across the ground towards the nearby sea. Then, after threatening to drown her, he drove away, leaving her there.

When a government truck driver found her walking along the road, her blouse was torn, she was barefooted, and wearing only underwear on her lower half, the court heard.

Police checked the scene where the woman said the attack had happened and found her shoes there, along with a chain with a ring on it that she had been wearing around her neck. The chain had broken during the assault, she said.

Porter said the sex was consensual. He claimed he and the woman had agreed to a price of $50 prior to having sex, but a disagreement arose when the woman demanded $200 after intercourse had occurred.

In September this year, Porter appealed the conviction on the grounds that he had not been given enough time to locate and call a potential witness, who he claimed had had a similar experience with the same woman, suggesting that a false charge had been laid.

During the trial, the court had adjourned the matter for a week to allow Porter’s defence counsel to locate the witness. However, the witness did not show up. Porter’s defence then requested that the jury be discharged to give them enough time to find the witness; this application was rejected by the judge.

During the appeal hearing, Keith Myers, Porter’s attorney, argued that if the judge had discharged the jury and allowed the witness to be located, Porter would not have been convicted.

The Court of Appeal dismissed that argument, noting that the potential witness had been due to appear before the appeals court judges, but when contacted by the courts to attend the proceedings, he refused.

When dismissing the verdict appeal, the judges said even if the witness had been called to give evidence on Porter’s behalf, it would not have changed the jury’s verdict.

In their ruling, the judges said, “This case was a contest of credibility between the evidence of the complainant and the evidence of the applicant. The complainant’s evidence was supported by the independent evidence of the government truck driver, as well as the finding of her personal items at the scene of the incident. In these circumstances, it seems  to us that the jury would inevitably have arrived at a verdict of guilt.”

Turning to Porter’s appeal against his 13-year sentence, the judges said, “Mr. Myers told us frankly that he did not consider this the stronger of his two grounds of appeal. We agreed with him. The sentences imposed by the judge cannot possibly be said to have been manifestly excessive in the dreadful circumstances of this case.”

The case was heard before Court of Appeal President Sir John Goldring and justices Sir Richard Field and Dennis Morrison.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now