Justice Nicola Byer yesterday handed down a suspended sentence of two years imprisonment to a 19 year-old man who had sex with a girl under the age of 13 years.
While stating that she was giving the teen ‘one chance’, Justice Byer stated that the prison term will only be activated if the offender commits another crime within the next 24 months.
“You do not interfere with people’s little children… I don’t expect to hear about you again. You’ve gotten one chance – use it wisely,” Justice Byer told the offender whose name she said should not be published in order to protect the identity of the minor.
The judge further told the young sex offender: “If you misbehave for any matter…that [suspended] sentence will take effect, and you will be going to [Her Majesty’s Prison at] Balsum Ghut.”
The High Court judge, while handing down the sentence, stated that she did not order immediate incarceration because she believes the circumstances of the offence are ‘exceptional’.
She noted the fact that the sexual encounter happened when the offender was 17 years old. The victim was 12 at the time.
Justice Byer further noted the offender’s ‘youth and immaturity’ when he committed the sex crime.
One older than the other, judge notes
It was reported that, on the day the incident took place, the victim had invited the offender to her residence.
The offender, who was a friend of the little girl’s family, agreed to visit.
The girl – dressed in pajamas – met the offender at her yard gate.
The two then voyaged to an abandoned lot, where they had sexual intercourse behind a parked truck.
The victim’s family got wind of the sexual encounter some time later and alerted the police.
The offender was charged eventually.
He pleaded guilty in the High Court this month.
Just before the teen was sentenced yesterday, his attorney Ruthilea Maximea lobbied for a non-custodial sentence.
“The offence before the court can be considered as a one-off offence [that happened] when children are eager to explore [sex]… Both were children, both naive, both consented,” Maximea said.
“Give him (the offender) a chance, because he is a fit and proper person to be rehabilitated.”
Justice Byer accepted that both the offender and the victim were young, and that neither of them was forced into sex.
“However, one was older than the other and he needed to know when to stop,” the judge said.
She then made it clear that a minor cannot consent to sex. Notwithstanding that, Justice Byer declared: “I am satisfied that this defendant should not be considered as a [sex] predator.”
Make him an example
Meanwhile, shortly before the sentence was handed down yesterday, prosecuting attorney Tiffany Scatliffe-Esprit also made submissions to the court. She argued for the offender to be imprisoned.
“The message must go out as a deterrent that this type of behaviour is unacceptable,” she said while she noted that the offender needed to be ‘rehabilitated’.
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