Cybercrime reprieve

A security guard, who was taken to court for stealing images of a woman from her mobile phone and threatening to post them on social media if she did not comply with his sexual and financial demands, was eventually freed after both parties reached an amicable settlement in a mediation session.

The man, who appeared before Justice Sasha-Marie Smith-Ashley in the St James Parish Court on Wednesday, was charged with malicious communication under Section 9 of the Cybercrimes Act.

The court was told that between June and September, the two, who are both security guards, were at a location when the man gained access to the complainant’s phone, which was left unattended.

He saw specific photographs of her on the device and transferred them to his phone without her consent.

The same images were then sent to the woman’s phone from an unknown number. Voicemail and text messages were also sent to her, demanding oral sex and $20,000 or the images would be shared on social media.

The complainant eventually discovered that the accused man was the one who sent the photos to her phone and requested that their supervisor intervene.

The man later confessed that he owned the phone from which the threats were sent, but said the device was subsequently destroyed.

The court was told that the accused man’s failure to apologise to the complainant aggravated the situation further, resulting in her informing the authorities and him facing legal action.

However, the man’s lawyer, Kimika Peterkin, took issue with the allegations after they were outlined.

“Your Honour, it is quite interesting that my client has admitted to something like that and refused to apologise,” Peterkin said, adding that, according to her instructions, that was not what had transpired.

Smith-Ashley then asked the parties if they wanted to try mediation, to which they agreed.

The case was stood down to allow the parties to participate in a mediation session with a mediator who was present in court.

When the case was revisited, the court was told that the parties had reached an amicable settlement, resulting in the prosecution offering no evidence against the man, after which he was discharged.

The case comes two years after a Jamaican man, who in 2019 had pleaded guilty to distributing sexually explicit photos and video footage of his former girlfriend, an American television anchor, was sent to prison despite a partly successful appeal.

The man had said that he committed the act in retaliation against her for sending pictures and messages to his friends and family, causing him “much shame and embarrassment”.

The man, who was charged for breaches of section 9 of the Cybercrimes Act, was sentenced in the Corporate Area Criminal Court to a year in prison on each of two of three counts to which he pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a fine of $1 million or serve four months’ imprisonment in default of payment on the third count to which he pleaded guilty. The four months were to run consecutively to the two-year sentence.

He, however, appealed the sentence on the basis that it “was manifestly excessive”. His attorney, in the appeal filed in 2022, also batted for a non-custodial sentence and a reduction in the fine.

The Court of Appeal, in handing down its judgment on the matter, set aside the sentences imposed by the parish court in relation to the first two counts and instead ruled that he should spend six months on each at hard labour. The sentences were to run concurrently which, in effect, meant half a year in total.

The appeal court, however, upheld the parish court’s ruling in respect of the $1-million fine or four months’ imprisonment if the convicted man defaulted. It also upheld the order of the parish court judge requiring that the term of imprisonment in default of payment of the fine should run consecutive to the other counts.