THE PAIN STILL EXISTS

She
wanted to be in court, but it did not happen.

Justice served against Davian Bryan, the man who abducted her nine-year-old daughter from her home in St Thomas, and then abused her, causing the child to be suffering untold emotional and physical pain still, was what she wanted to see.

But the disappointed mother, who said she still takes her daughter to and from school out of fear, experienced neither of those things — she was not informed about the date for the sentencing, and she is not pleased with the abuser’s 23-year sentence.

“I really didn’t know. It is yesterday [Thursday] that I know. Somebody was asking me if I know that the man got sentenced. I believed that we were going to attend the court, but we did not get to go,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

Bryan was sentenced to 23 years’ imprisonment when he appearedin the St Thomas Parish Court on Wednesday. He had pleaded guilty to 12 counts of rape, grievous sexual assault, and forcible abduction.

The girl’s mother said her absence from court, would’ve been appeased if Bryan had been hit with the full extent of the law. Instead, she feels as though the justice system gave him a slap on the wrist.

“It’s so sad and I’m so sad. I am not satisfied with that. I don’t feel pleased about that. He should get more than that for one girl, much less two. We don’t feel pleased with that sentence. He should get more than that because my daughter is going through a whole lot now. The whole community is fed up about the sentence that he got. It is really rough,” she said.

A grade four student then, her daughter was abducted from her home by Bryan, who at the time was before the court on rape and illegal possession of firearm charges in the neighbouring parish of Portland.

It was reported that she was alone on the veranda, playing with her puppy, when Bryan came to purchase an item from a shop operated at her house on October 14, 2021, some time after 6:00 pm. Her older sister then discovered that she had gone missing.

The same night, CCTV footage recorded in the community showed Bryan leaving with the girl. The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) then listed him as a suspect and a manhunt followed.

The mother said the news of the sentencing brought her back to the night her daughter went missing, and everything that followed.

“I feel it so much that tears run from my eyes. I can’t get over it because each time I look at my daughter; it is just that come to me. And to how her eyes were swell this morning and how she was crying, I just feel all of that pressure come down,” she told the Sunday Observer.

A statement for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) outlined that on Thursday, October 14, 2021, “She left and while walking towards her aunt’s house, she saw a man whom she had never seen before walk up to her, held her by the throat, and threatened to kill her if she [screamed]. He then led her to a path to the river to a place where there were only stones, grass, and bushes.

“He then sexually assaulted her. When he was finished, he forced her to walk with him into the bushes where he took her to a place with a sponge to sleep. During the night he woke her up and again sexually assaulted her.”

It added that on the morning of Friday, October 15, 2021, Bryan woke her up and she saw him.

“Clearly they spent the day in the bushes until night. On Saturday, October 16, 2021, he sexually assaulted her again. Afterwards, he left her alone to get water. It was then she was rescued by an old man and her neighbour who took her to Princess Margaret Hospital where she was medically examined.”

Betty Ann Blaine, child advocate and founder of Hear the Children’s Cry, told the Sunday Observer that she was “taken aback” when she learned of the sentencing.

Blaine stressed that she isn’t questioning the ability or integrity of the judge, “but I thought the sentencing appeared to be much too light given how serious the cases were and how many counts were involved. That was my very first reaction. I think the judiciary, as well as the rest of the country should, must now look at these sentences being passed down for people who abuse children, particularly rape, abductions and so on.”

One man who was active in a community-led search for the girl told the Sunday Observer: “They gave him a slap on the wrist. The man took two of our girls back to back and this is what he gets? Leave paedophiles to the communities so real justice can get served.”

Another added, “Better the police did tell him to don’t let it happen again and send him out so we can fix him. When him serve the time, what next? You are going to send him out to start again? That must be the logics behind all of this.”

On April 8, 2022, the girl went to an identification parade where she pointed out Bryan. He was then charged with the offences of forcible abduction, rape, and grievous sexual assault.

“The Child Care people told me that they needed my daughter to come for something, but my daughter wrote a letter and told them that she can’t come. She wrote the letter and they got it because it wouldn’t make sense for her to go into that again and get upset and those things,” the mother said.

“Right now, my daughter is bawling for her eye. She wake up with her eye [swollen]. She has to wear a glasses. She never usually wear a glass before… it is since the incident that she can’t see. That is how she end up getting the glasses, because when she goes to school she can’t see the writing on the board. She didn’t have an eye problem before. More times, she bawls that her feet are hurting. And I still have to end up bringing her to school and picking her up,” she said.

Two days after her daughter was rescued, another girl, aged 13, was snatched from the same community sometime after 4:00 pm, after accompanying her older sister to feed pigs in their backyard. The 13-year-old was also found a day later. She was in heavy foliage outside a neighbouring community.

The ODPP said the girl “says that she was outside her home walking towards the pig pen to feed the pigs when she felt someone grab her right hand from behind. She felt scared and shouted. By this time the man was in front of her and he used his other hand to cover her mouth. She saw the man’s face and he threatened to kill her if she screamed.

He then forced her to walk with him until they got to a section of the community, where they slept in the bushes that night.

“On Sunday, October 17, 2021, they continued walking until they reached a big tree where he pushed her on the ground to lie down and sexually assaulted her. When he was finished they continued walking until night when they stopped to sleep. On October 18, 2021, when they woke up they continued to walk until they got to a place along the river where the trees formed a canopy. They went to a waterfall where the complainant said she saw her uncle and another man coming towards them. She called out for help and the accused ran off.”

She was taken to the Princess Margaret Hospital where she was medically examined. On April 8, 2022, she went to an identification parade where she pointed out Bryan.

On May 11, 2023, when Bryan appeared in the St Thomas Circuit Court before Justice Courtney Daye, he pleaded guilty to 12 counts. He will be eligible for parole after serving 16 years in prison, and was ordered by the judge to be placed on the sex offenders’ register after he is released. The prosecution offered no evidence in relation to counts 13, 14, and 15.

On May 31, 2023, he received the following sentences:

(1) Forcible abduction (count I) – 8 years 11 months

(2) Rape (count II) – 12 years 6 months

(3) Forcible abduction (count III) – 8 years 11 months

(4) Rape (count IV)- 17 years 7 months

(5) Indecent assault ( count V) – 8 years 11 months

(6) Grievous sexual assault ( count VI) – 12 years 6 months

(7) Rape (count VII) – 18 years 11 months

(8) Indecent assault (count VIII) – 8 years 11 months

(9) Rape (count IX) – 21 years

(10) Indecent assault (count X) – 8 years 11 months

(11) Forcible abductions (XI) – 10 years 5 months

(12) Rape (Count XII) – 23 years 3 months