Popular van man jailed for unlawful sex with 14-year-old
A popular minivan conductor must serve eight months in prison for having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old who could not consent to the act.
In addition, 31-year-old Devon ‘Wacky’ Providence was also sentenced to a two-year prison term for burglary, ie trespassing onto the teen’s mother’s property in order to assault her daughter. Notwithstanding, this sentence for burglary will not be served immediately but will hang over his head for two years and will only be activated if Providence commits another offence within two years.
The young man was fortunate in that a third count of rape which was originally brought against him had been earlier withdrawn by the prosecution.
Counsel for the defence, Mikhail Charles, who appeared with counsel Adrian Odle, mitigated for Providence at sentencing at the High Court last Wednesday, February 3.
Charles told Justice Brian Cottle that there is some “difficulty” connected to the facts of the matter.
The counsel noted that his client says that the teen was his friend, and further argues that he was invited to the teen’s house, and that the intercourse was initiated by the girl.
While noting that “of course” a minor cannot give consent, the attorney indicated that there is a conflict in that the prosecution’s position was that violence and threats were used during the act.
In the absence of a hearing, Charles indicated “we believe or we submit that the allegation should be resolved in favour of the defendant.”
At another point the counsel assured, “the defendant also expresses … profound remorse, now that he has understood the legal nuance of the charge being that a minor, irrespective of whatever may have been proffered at that time, cannot give consent.”
The lawyer offered information about the character of his client. Providence grew up without a full relationship with his father, and he likewise does not have a full relationship with his six-year-old daughter who lives in another country.
He sometimes works as a mason, but also plies the Stubbs-Biabou route as “one of the most popular conductors” in that area. Charles informed that he is a “community minded fellow”, and a dancer at several fetes and school shows. In fact, his nickname ‘Wacky’ is inspired by a modern Jamaican dancehall dancer.
His siblings, of which he has three on his mother’s side, vouched for their brother but one of them revealed “that they are wondering if his diminutive stature and nature… if that was translated into his choice of romantic partner usually being younger women.”
In the end of his legal submission, Charles indicated that, in all the facts and circumstances, they considered that custody should be a last resort.
In delivering his sentence, Justice Cottle read the court-accepted facts of the incident.
In 2018, the then-14-year-old complainant lived in a village in South Central Windward with her mother and sisters.
Providence frequently had cause to be in this area for reasons not related to the teenager.
On September 30, 2018 at 7pm, the teen’s mother left her at home to go to a shop in the neighbourhood. On her way to the shop she met Providence, but neither of them said anything to each other.
The 14-year-old was at home with her siblings, when she was awakened by a touch to her leg. She apparently opened her eyes and saw Providence in her room.
The 29-year-old is said to have told the teenager to remain quiet, and then proceeded to have sexual intercourse with her. Following this, he left the house.
When the teen’s mother returned she found all of her children sleeping, and nothing was mentioned to her.
In November 2018, a friend of the mother informed her about the incident.
“She (the mother) confronted (Providence) who responded that nothing had happened between the complainant and himself.
The mother also asked her daughter about the matter but got no response,” the judge noted.
The matter resurfaced once more in December, when yet another villager spoke to the mother. This time when the mother confronted her daughter about the rumour, and her daughter did not respond, the teen was beaten by her mother.
The young girl, “then became tearful and told her mother about what had occurred,” before the matter was reported to the police.
Last Wednesday, Providence faced a maximum of five years’ imprisonment for the offence of unlawful sexual intercourse (USI) with a girl under the age of 15 years, as well as a maximum of 14 years incarceration for burglary.
The victim provided a statement to the court saying that she was affected psychologically and socially. The incident frightened her at the time, and made her angry. She had to move to another area, and contemplated self-harm afterwards.
She also no longer feels safe at home.
“In my view, the offences are serious ones. The very young must be protected, even from their immature bad decisions.
Adult males must respect the right of young girls to be shielded from would-be predators,” the Justice stated.
He noted that Providence knew their mother was absent, and, knowing he did not have permission to enter the house, nonetheless used this opportunity to strike.
“I accept that there is a suggestion that the complainant might have encouraged the intentions of the prisoner, but as an adult it remained his obligation to resist any perceived sexual advances from a child,” Cottle concluded.
“I am of the view that the threshold for a custodial sentence has been passed in this case,” he said.
For the USI offence, the judge used the sentencing guidelines of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) to determine the level of seriousness and the consequences of the offence.
Consequently, he chose to start at 20 per cent of the maximum, which equates to one year in prison.
The aggravating and mitigating features related to the offence and offender cancelled each other out, therefore the sentence was not adjusted.
A one third discount for his guilty plea was applied, leaving the sentence of the court at eight months in prison.
In the case of the count of burglary, the offence fell into lessor categories of both seriousness and consequences. The sentence began at two years and nine months and climbed up to three years. This increase was to account for the aggravating facts that the offence took place at night, that this type of sexual assault on young girls is becoming prevalent in the country, and that her younger siblings could have witnessed the assault.
Providence’s guilty plea reduced this penalty to two years incarceration, which the Justice suspended for two years based on guidelines available to him.