Court upholds 13-year rape sentence

The Cayman Islands courthouse, in George Town. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay (file)

The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal has declined, for the second time, to quash a 2017 rape conviction against Rohan Anthony Gidarisingh.

In 2014, Gidarisingh, who was 39 at the time, raped a 23-year-old woman who was known to him. At the original trial, the jury heard that Gidarisingh by chance ran into an acquaintance whose daughter was celebrating her 23rd birthday. He had not seen the young woman since she was 5 years old and he asked to treat her.

The judge at that trial said Gidarisingh took the woman from bar to bar until she was inebriated. He then tricked her into going to a hotel room on the pretext that there was a private party and some friends would be there.

During the incident, Gidarisingh raped the woman twice and used a knife in the commission of the offence. He was convicted following a jury trial and imprisoned for 13 years.

In 2018, Gidarisingh initially challenged the conviction, on the grounds that the Crown had not properly analysed the CCTV footage or the DNA evidence on the knife. His then attorney, John Furniss, told the appeals court those failures made a fair trial impossible. The court dismissed the appeal and upheld the conviction against Gidarisingh.

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Last month, Gidarisingh returned to the Court of Appeal requesting that his case be reopened, this time on the grounds that Furniss had “failed to take all the points he should have at the previous hearing”.

The appeals court permitted Gidarisingh’s new attorney, Hugh Wildman, to argue the case on five new grounds. These included allegations that the trial judge misdirected the jury in respect of the value of Gidarisingh’s evidence, and that the judge failed to direct the jury on the defendant’s defence when he asserted that he “honestly believed the complainant was consenting”.

A third ground alleged the trial judge failed to properly direct the jury on the mens rea (guilty mind) of rape and how that would affect the facts of the case. Gidarisingh also claimed the judge misdirected the jury in respect of his possession of a knife on the night in question, and that the judge misquoted the evidence.

“None of these grounds have merit,” the appeals court judges ruled, according to the transcript of the oral judgment. “Considering them cumulatively cannot render this conviction of rape arguably unsafe.”

The refusal of the application means Gidarisingh must serve the remaining nine years of his prison sentence.

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  1. How many appeals can this man lodge and who pays for all of them. If not the defendant, he should have a year added to his sentence for each meritless appeal, that will stop this nonsense.