A 23-year-old Gomea man has become the first person in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to be successfully prosecuted under the country’s cybercrime law, which was passed amidst controversy in 2016.
On Tuesday, at the Calliaqua Magistrate’s Court, Kervin Hunt, a labourer, was fined for leaking nude photos of his ex-girlfriend, an 18-year-old nursing student to a WhatsApp group of her classmates.
He pleaded guilty to a charge of violation of privacy, namely that he intentionally and without lawful excuse transmitted through a computer system the image and videos of the private areas of the 18-year-old student without her consent, contrary to the Cybercrime Act.
The facts of the case are that Hunt and the nursing student were in a relationship, which ended in January.
The complainant went to Hunt’s residence to collect her clothes and he took her phone, an iPhone 11, from her and kept it in his possession for two weeks.
During that time, Hunt forwarded nude photos of the complainant from the device to the complainant’s class chat.
For that offence, the magistrate, Zoila Ellis-Browne ordered Hunt to pay a fine of EC$1,000 in one month or spend three months in prison.
Hunt was also charged with damaging one iPhone 11, valued at US$499.99 and one HP laptop, valued at US$299.99.
He was ordered to compensate the complainant in the sum of EC$500 by Feb. 15 or spend three months in prison.
If he fails to pay the sums, the sentences will run concurrently.
Hunt faced a maximum penalty of EC$100,000 or to imprisonment for two years or both.
If the matter appeared before the High Court, he could have faced a fine of EC$250,000 or imprisonment for five years or both.
In February 2018, Catisha Pierre-Jack, of Lower Questelles, became the first person to be charged under the Cybercrime Act, when prosecutors brought a charge of libel by electronic communication against her.
Pierre-Jack initially pleaded guilty but later changed her plea to not guilty after securing legal counsel.
Then, in September 2018, the prosecution withdrew the matter after defence counsel Kay Bacchus-Baptiste told the court that the complainant, Pierre-Jack’s sister, Crystal Pierre had “recused herself from the matter” and had written a letter to the court saying that she had no intention of proceeding with the matter.
“She apologised … in her own handwriting,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.
If convicted, Pierre-Jack would have faced a penalty of up to EC$50,000 or two years imprisonment.
The cybercrime law was passed in 2016 amidst local, regional and international outcry.