A man in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who repeatedly had sex with his 12-year-old stepdaughter and asked her what her mother could do about it, has escaped spending 39 years in jail.
Instead, the 52-year-old man will serve just 12 years for three counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 12 years old and one count of indecent assault.
The man took the court through a full trial and was convicted by a jury on March 15, 2018.
At the sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Crown Counsel Sejilla McDowall told the court that breach of trust was a major aggravating factor in the case.
She noted that the man operated as a father figure in the girl’s life, adding that the case included elements of sexual advantage.
The prosecutor said that the man had the economic advantage in that the girl had little means.
She told the court that while he offered the girl food and money, he did so specifically when sex occurred.
The court heard that the social inquiry report said that the convicted man had expressed no remorse.
McDowall said the response of the community was “noteworthy and alarming” in that residents expressed disbelief that the man would have committed such an act.
Asked what he had to say for himself, the man handed the court a piece of paper, which, when the judge read it, had only broad outlines about the purpose of sentencing, as if it was copied from a text book.
“That’s the goat skin lawyers around there (prison),” a member of the gallery muttered about the man’s intervention.
The convicted man made no other submissions about his sentencing.
In handing down sentence, Justice Brian Cottle pointed out that the man had taken advantage of a girl who looked up to him as a father figure and who depended on him for economic assistance.
The judge told the man that neither society nor the court approves of this, adding that this was putting it mildly.
Justice Cottle told the man that the child had told him that she would report his crimes to her mother and he had told her to go ahead and asked her what her mother could do about it.
“There is something the State can do,” the judge said, adding that unfortunately, he is constrained to follow the guidance of the Court of Appeal.
The appeal court says that in a case such as that one, the starting point for sentencing is eight years imprisonment, Cottle said.
He, however, said he did not think that eight years was sufficient.
The judge said that the aggravating features of the crime far outweighed the mitigating factors and said the only reason he would not impose consecutive jail terms was because of the man’s age.
He sentenced the man to 12 years each on three counts of unlawful sexual intercourse and three years for indecent assault.
The man had spent only 23 days on remand, which means he has the full sentence ahead of him.