Sex offenders Askey Roberts (left) and Kenny Richards on their way to prison in December. The judge suspended their two -year jail term last week. (iWN photo)

Five weeks into a two-year prison term for raping a 12-year-old girl, two men walked out of the High Court, in Kingstown, last week, after the judge decided to suspend the custodial sentence.

This means that the self-confessed rapists, Askey Roberts, 22, and Kenny Edwards, 24, of Lowmans Hill, will spend no additional time in jail for their crime if they do not run afoul of the law for the next two years.

On Dec. 7, 2018, High Court judge, Justice Brian Cottle imposed the prison sentence on the men for having sex with a 12-year-old girl on July 12, 2014, in the West Kingstown community.

The men were 18 and 19 at the time of their crime.

The court heard that the child was returning home from Kingstown, where her mother had sent her to purchase some items when Roberts held on to her hand and told her, “Girl, come gi’ me sex.”

The men’s lawyer, Duane Daniel, had asked the court to give them a suspended sentence.

In mitigation, Daniel had noted that both the victim — who is now 16 — and her mother had sworn affidavits saying that they had forgiven the men and that they should not be given any prison time.

The lawyer’s lengthy mitigation had included statements to the court by the men’s grandmothers — who are 66 and 69 years old — and the men also read statement they had prepared, asking for leniency.

In handing down the two-year sentence, the judge had noted the seriousness of the crime.

In handing down the sentence, justice Cottle had noted that the maximum sentence for the offence in life imprisonment — 30 years.

He said that the learning suggests that the offence is on the lower level of category two.

Regarding the aggravating features, the judge said that the offence was committed against a young child by both men acting together.

He said that the mitigating features were no level of gratuitous violence, no pregnancy or diseases resulted, no abhorrent perversions, and no relevant previous conviction.

The judge noted that the defendants were young at the time and have expressed remorse.

Justice Cottle noted that the maximum sentence in such a case is 30 years imprisonment.

He started at the notional 4.5 years imprisonment relevant in the case and deducted 1.5 years for their personal characteristics, including their age, guilty pleas and expressions of remorse.

A further one-third of the sentence was deducted for the guilty plea.

Justice Cottle further said he has to consider the classical criteria of deterrence, rehabilitation, prevention and retribution.

He said that while Daniel had argued that his clients had rehabilitated themselves, the court still has to send a message to other young men that this is not the type of behaviour that the state would tolerate.

Justice Cottle had also ordered the men reappear before him this month to hear the results of his consideration, adding that in the interim, they would have to remain in prison.

When the matter came up again last week Tuesday, Jan. 15, Cottle said he had visited her Majesty’s Prison and had found the conditions there “absolutely appalling”.

He noted the high rate of reoffending in SVG notwithstanding the prison conditions.

“…I do not understand how it is that a person who has once had that experience, would risk ever having it repeated,” Justice Cottle said.

He told the accused men: “I don’t know if your experience at Her Majesty’s Prisons or the impact it had on you, was anywhere near the impact that my visit had on me,” he stated, adding, “If it’s anything along those lines, you do not wish to return there.”

In outlining his decision to suspend the sentence, the judge noted that that the victim mother and her mother had forgiven the men and had made sworn statement in this regard.

He further pointed out they had approached the victim and her mother, sometime before the matter came to court, and had admitted to their crime and sought her forgiveness.

“…Indeed they said that they had been minded to offer no evidence at your trial. Had it not been for your guilty plea, there might have been no conviction,” the judge said.

The girl’s mother had virtually caught the men in the act when they took turns having sex with her daughter under a house. 

Justice Cottle, however, noted that the men’s crime is serious, saying, that the court must not send a signal that such offences would be treated lightly.

He, however, said: “I’m going to allow you the opportunity to decide by your conduct, whether you wish to return to Her Majesty’s Prisons… Don’t disappoint me, and don’t disappoint the complainant. Don’t disappoint her mother.”

When iWitness News reported in December about the two-year sentences, persons responded on our website in social media with outrage.

15 replies on “After five weeks, judge suspends rapists’ jail term”

  1. Rape is a criminal matter —- an offense against society — but in this case was wrongly treated as a civil offense — an issue involving private parties. Watch a time in little SVG.

  2. It’s either our legal professionals are a bunch of morons or our laws need revising. Whatever the case,Justice Cottle reasoning is simply rubbish of the highest order.

    Two adult men grabbed a 12 year old girl off the street and took turns raping her, no ifs or buts. They were caught in the act, case closed. But not so fast. Justice Cottle seem to believe that if the victim and their families say, it’s alright we forgive the perpetrators who raped my 12 year old…Then it’s alright to circumvent the laws and make sh!T up.

    In previous cases of a similar nature,ah wonder if the family of the young girl that the ex policeman raped had come forward and say it’s alright we forgive him, if Justice Cottle would have still imposed the 30 years sentence….Lawd put a hand.

    Attempted rape, indecent assault, a man get 5&1/2 years…Two men took turns raping a 12 year old… YOU ARE FREE TO GO.

  3. How in the world is this possible? Two grown men rape an underaged girl and get off scot free. These SVG Judges are a joke. And the prosecutor did not appeal? What a la la.

  4. I can’t believe this what about the effect on that child’s life she may never recover from this and to think those men have basically got away with such a brutal crime on an innocent young girl
    She was raped not by one but two men
    And mother forgives them for the rape of her daughter
    How sad!

  5. They will pay for their crime against the innocent. Our God is a God of justice.They should be praying for mercy.

  6. I am DISGUSTED. I would not return to visit St. Vincent in a hurry. They raped a 12 year old, took turns on her – no different than slave masters. No different than Harvey Weinstein. PEDOPHILIA. This judge obviously thinks child rape is not serious, the mental trauma of this young child is not a consideration. These men are not mandated to counseling or reform. Black girls deserve protection – I would expect more from a Black nation but I see St. Vincent has a deep moral problem.

  7. Injustice #1 Two men rape a child as changed and convicted and only receive a two year sentence.

    Injustice #2 a few weeks into the sentence following a request from the defense attorney and a note from the child mother a judge agrees to suspend the extremely lenient sentence.

    What is the local bar association position on this dereliction of duty by the judge
    We must find a to protect our kids

  8. This is very sickening to read of the 12 year old child was raped by 18 and 19 years old men got off sad. Those young men are rapists it was absolutely appalling when the mother caught them raping the child. T were old enough to know the conditions of any prison, I think the experience when they were raping the child will have an impact on her for the rest of her life rape is serious. Now I know that Vincentians do not take rape serious they should be punished for their criminal act on the child. I am very disappointed they rehabilitated themselves lord have mercy.

  9. SVG makes me feel sick and shame at times.
    So this is justice for rapists, where is the justice for the victim.
    That’s why SVG will always be plagued with imps like those rapists.

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