Court slashes sentence of rape convict

A former HEART academy student who was convicted in 2019 of raping a fellow student and sentenced to 15 years behind bars succeeded in having his sentence slashed almost in half by the Appeal Court earlier this month, with the stipulation that he serves six years at hard labour before becoming eligible for parole.

Attorneys for the convict had argued that the complainant alleged the rape because she did not get $2,000 she demanded for purchasing a “morning-after pill” after a tryst in the backroom of a bar one night.

According to the defence, she had gone as far as to tell him that if he did not provide the funds at the time she requested it, she would make his “life miserable”.

The male, who was 22-years-old at the time of the offence which occurred in 2017, was found guilty by a judge and jury on an indictment charging him with indecent assault and rape. He was sentenced to three years and two months’ imprisonment for indecent assault and 15 years’ imprisonment for rape, with the stipulation that he serves 10 years before being eligible for parole. The sentences were ordered to run concurrently.

Attorneys for the male student who, in his defence, testified that the sex was consensual, had appealed the ruling on the grounds that the trial judge failed to adequately address the baseline of the case so that the jury could adequately analyse the case and see the underlying motive for the complainant “crying” rape and that the sentence was “manifestly excessive”.

The prosecution in the matter led evidence that in June 2017 the complainant, who lived on dorm at the HEART academy, was coming from a class at that institution one evening when she saw the appellant, whom she knew and considered to be a friend. According to prosecutors, the young man had told her in the past that he liked her, but she insisted on only being friends with him.

That evening, he supposedly invited her to accompany him and his two male friends on a walk during which they ended up at a bar where he purchased her a non-alcoholic drink. Some time later she asked for a bathroom and was led to a room by the appellant who led her into the room and then tried to kiss her.

According to the complainant, she pushed him off, but he brandished a knife and threatened her with it. After wrestling with him for a while she said she gave up and he, after stripping her, raped her.

According to the Crown, in the aftermath of the attack the complainant asked to be let out through a back door and once back on dorm messaged a cousin to tell him that she had been raped. A medical doctor who examined the young woman said what he found was consistent with consensual and non-consensual sexual intercourse.

The male, in his defence, said they were “boyfriend and girlfriend” and that after the tryst, which he insisted was consensual, the complainant told him that she needed $2,000 to get a morning-after pill. According to him, he told her that he did not have any more money but that he would get it to her another evening. According to him, she demanded to have it then, stating that if he did not give it to her at the time, she would make his “life miserable”.

Attorneys for the male argued that the offer to provide the money at a later time “created bitterness” on the part of the female, hence her cry of “rape, just in case she might have got pregnant”.

The Appeal Court, in addressing the defence’s argument that the trial judge failed to properly address the bedrock of the case, said it found no merit in that ground as the judge adequately addressed the issue of the complainant’s credibility and gave the jury sufficient directions in respect of the facts which could have assisted them in deciding her credibility.

However, on the ground that the sentence was manifestly excessive for the offence of rape, the court, while noting that rape is an “egregious violation of the body and psyche of the victim”, said “having balanced the aggravating and the mitigating factors”, it concluded that the appropriate sentence is a term of nine years’ imprisonment at hard labour, from which the period of three months and 10 days spent in custody on pre-sentence remand, when deducted, results in a sentence of eight years, eight months and 20 days’ imprisonment.

As such, the Appeal Court affirmed the sentence of three years and two months’ imprisonment at hard labour for indecent assault but ordered that the sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment at hard labour for rape be set aside and substituted with a sentence of eight years, eight months and 20 days’ imprisonment at hard labour with the stipulation that he serves six years’ imprisonment at hard labour before becoming eligible for parole. The sentences are to be considered as having commenced on December 19, 2019, the date they were imposed, and are to run concurrently.

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