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No mercy from court for sex offender
The Court of Appeal has rejected the appeal of a 34-year-old man convicted of raping his 12-year-old niece on two occasions in 2006.
Delivering an oral judgement at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain yesterday, Chief Justice Ivor Archie and Appellate Judges Rajendra Narine and Prakash Moosai dismissed all the grounds raised by the man, whose identity has been withheld to protect the victim.
The judges disagreed with attorney Daniel Khan that his client had been given an unfair trial before Justice Devan Rampersad, last year.
Khan had contended that Rampersad failed to give a modified good character direction to the jury, explaining that his client had only one conviction for marijuana possession and none for sexual offences.
"The judge gave a careful and complete summation," Archie said as he noted that the judge's failure would not have affected the jury's eventual verdict on the evidence before them.
Archie also noted that there was no logical connection between a clean criminal record and a person's credibility.
“Experience of life tells us that. There are people who have not yet been convicted but would never get a character reference,” Archie said.
The judges also refused to modify the man's sentence as they agreed with State prosecutor Mauriceia Joseph, who submitted that he "got off easy" with a 20-year sentence from Rampersad.
They referred to the victim's impact statement, which was used in his sentencing.
The victim, now 24, claimed that she has never recovered from the attacks. She said she contemplated suicide several times as she felt that it was the only way to end her recurring psychological trauma.
She claimed that she was also forced to drop out of secondary school as she was unable to interact with her peers, who she felt would judge her over her experience.
As a result, she said that she has had difficulties in finding employment.
According to the evidence presented at the trial, the man attacked his niece, while he lived at her home in Central Trinidad.
Her uncle tied her hands, gagged her and then raped her. He threatened to kill her and her parents if she resisted or reported the incident. The attack was repeated several weeks later.
Her parents eventually found out and reported the matter to the police.