Man faces two decades behind bars for kidnap and rape
For the abduction of his common law wife and forcing her to go to a mountain where he raped her, a Questelles man will spend two decades behind bars.
Such was the decision of Justice Brian Cottle last week Friday at the High Court, just over a month after the jury had returned a unanimous guilty verdict on all four charges posed to the man.
Cottle went through each offence and the aggravating and mitigating, or lack of mitigating features for each, and handed down jail sentences for all four.
However, the offence of rape attracted the most serious penalty and the 37-year-old was sentenced to 20 years in jail, or 19 years, ten months and 25 days, after the time he has already spent imprisoned was subtracted.
Given that the offences were committed “during the course of a single campaign of criminality,” Cottle noted that the sentences would run concurrently.
Aggravated burglary, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, abduction and rape were all committed, in that order, between the dates August 20 and 23, 2013.
The prisoner was 31 at the time, and the woman who had been his common law wife by virtue of the seven years they had spent together, was 24 years old. The two had a son who was 18 months old when the assault happened. Their relationship was said to have been an abusive one.
On the night of the incident, the two had not been living together because of an argument days before where the husband had gone after his wife with a cutlass.
It was a few days later, on August 21, that the young woman was sleeping with her son on the same bed, when she felt someone tugging at her legs. She woke up and found her former lover looming over her with a cutlass and she screamed. Although very reluctant, she was forced to follow him. The son was left on the bed, he never awoke for the entirety of the ordeal. An injury was inflicted to the victim’s left hand, because when she was being pulled and pushed by her husband, she fell to the ground.
The incident took place in Barrouallie, and the woman was dragged to a nearby mountain where, being threatened with a scissors held above her head, she was raped. The aggression of the rape was evident in the bruising to her cervix which was noted in a later medical examination.
After the rape, the prisoner had apparently said he would kill her, and that he already had a getaway boat waiting for him at the dock. She convinced him to not to kill her by speaking about their son, and promised him that she would not go to the police station.
They went back to her house, and he slept in the bedroom with her and their son.
He left the following morning, and she waited for a neighbour to come and then she went to make a report.
Cottle began by contemplating aggravated burglary and cited a court of appeal case where the prisoner had pleaded guilty and was given seven years.
“Now guilty pleas at the earliest opportunity benefit from a one third discount. This prisoner was found guilty after a full trial and therefore gets no discount,” he informed, before affixing a starting point of 10 years imprisonment.
Cottle found many things to be aggravating in the case, including that “it was committed at the home of the victim, at the time when she was there with her 18 month old infant son,” and his possession of a cutlass.
Further the report showed significant psychological trauma to the victim, wherein she suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and, “she was not able to eat and sleep properly, she lost significant weight.”
“I can find nothing from the facts of this case which I consider to be mitigating and I will therefore move upwards from my starting point of 10 years,” to 13 years, he concluded.
For rape the High Court has been given draft sentencing guidelines, which indicates that 30 years in jail (which equates to the life sentence) is the maximum for the offence.
High, medium and lesser offences are then categorized by the degree of harm which they have caused to the victim. As there was “some serious psychological harm” coupled with some physical harm, he categorized the offence in the medium level.
The next step for him was to categorize the seriousness of the offence. He thought it to be high level of seriousness, because “there was forced entry into the home of the virtual complainant, and there was prolonged detention of the virtual complainant for several hours.”
The guidelines suggest that he should fix a starting point between 35 and 65% in such cases, but on reflection the Justice indicated he would fix it at 66%. He would start at 20 years in jail.
He did not count the aggravating features already added to the offence of aggravated burglary. No mitigating features were found. He did not move upwards or downwards from 20 years.
Abduction and assault causing actual bodily harm (ABH) both carry maximum sentences of five years imprisonment. Aggravating in the abduction was that it happened at night, and the victim was forced to leave her child at home alone, and for the ABH, his criminal record for violent crimes was consulted.
Sentences of three years and three years and six months were imposed for the abduction and ABH respectively.
The case was prosecuted by crown counsel Karim Nelson, the defendant was not represented.