Each person in a relationship is entitled to say no to each other – Judge
After over a month-long trial at the High Court, encompassing eight charges, a husband was found guilty of raping his wife, but not guilty on a charge of attempted murder.
An eight person jury, as one person had recused himself after the trial began, brought back the verdict, after deliberating at length on Wednesday, that a 39-year-old resident of Welcome was guilty of raping his wife on October 13, 2014.
They also found that the accused was guilty of assault occasioning actually bodily harm between October 15 and 18, 2014, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and abduction on December 13, 2014.
However, they found that the husband was not guilty of attempted murder on December 13, 2014.
On other charges of aggravated burglary and damage to property on December 13, 2014, the jury was hung, at a ratio of six to two. On a second charge of rape, read on the indictment as occurring between October 15 and 18, 2014 the jury was hung four to four.
The Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Sejilla McDowall, asked for an adjournment for the crown to determine whether they wanted to make an application as it regards the jury being hung on these charges.
McDowall and defense attorney for the accused, Ronald Marks, have sat on either end of the bar table at the Supreme Court with regard to this matter since September 25, 2018.
The lengthy trial saw evidence being given as it relates to incidents on October 13, 16 and December 13, 2014, from which the charges arose.
As a precursor to these incidents, it was noted that the couple had not had any communication while the wife had been in England for three months, attending to her terminally ill sister. The marriage had also been experiencing some issues before that.
The defense said that they were working on the marriage when his wife returned to St Vincent, but the prosecution said that the wife had no intention to do this.
For the rape that the husband was found guilty of, his wife had said that he had forced his way into the apartment she had been occupying with their son. She said he was arguing with her, pacing up and down, asking for another chance, and if she had been with other men. She said he had a penknife that he was flashing. Their son eventually fell asleep, and he was taken to the bedroom. The accused then apparently asked her to take off her clothes, and the two began wrestling. The wife said the accused forced her clothes off, and forcibly had sex with her, while she was asking him to stop, and saying no.
In a later interview with the police the accused had apparently stated something which indicated that he forced his wife, but his defense at trial was that they had makeup sex.
Justice Esco Henry, in summing up to the jury, noted that, in law, a man can rape his wife, and that they would have to consider the elements of the offence of rape.
She noted that the fact that they were married was relevant to the question of consent. Henry continued that in this sort of relationship there is usually give and take in a number of things, including sexually. One of the questions she asked them to consider was, whether, albeit reluctantly, the wife gave consent or not. She also noted that each person in a relationship is entitled to say no to each other, notwithstanding the relationship, and that by no means are those in intimate relations consenting to any and all sexual activity.
The wife did not report her husband until after October 16, because she had said that she thought she could move past it as the husband had said he would leave her alone.
On October 16, another argument had ensued over her being on Whatsapp with other men, and the accused eventually ended up becoming violent, and raising a knife over his wife’s head. The wife had said this was a kitchen knife, but the defense had said that the knife was dull and couldn’t cut bread, which was consistent with an interview that he gave to the police. The wife had said that her husband beat her, was threatening her and that she had to hold the knife in order to stop the accused’s violent actions. The knife was eventually taken away by the wife, and thrown away.
After this, the wife said that she was crying, and the defendant forced her to have sex, but her husband had said that he said sorry after the knife incident, and that they made up intimately.
A doctor testified that the wife had fresh cuts on her hands, but that they were not deep.
On December 13, the wife had already made a report to the police in relation to October, but the two had agreed for access to the son. Therefore, this was a date when the husband was supposed to pick him up. However, he did not come at the decided time, the wife saying that when he did come, he was wearing the suit he got married in, but that it was cut up. The wife said that she was trying to avoid him, but he wanted to talk to her. She said that she ran into the neighbour’s apartment, and that the husband came after her kicking the door down. He was said to have had a knife, and that there were persons trying to dissuade him. The wife said that he ripped her top off and dragged her back to the main road, while brandishing a knife. She also said that he tried to stab her several times, throw her over a low level wall, and caused her to trip and fall. She said that he threw her into the gutter twice, and pointed a gun at her. She apparently escaped after he went to get something.
The defense said that he was late to pick up the child, and when he arrived he noticed that the child’s bag was on ground. He said he asked his wife why that was so. He said she slapped him, and asked him if he “don’t weary” drink rum. He then grabbed onto her, and some fellas with bottles and sticks came, and he ran away from them.
The neighbor testified that the wife had run into the apartment, and that the accused was pushing her in front of him on the way to the road, but that she did not see a weapon.
The court ordered a social inquiry report before sentencing, to be prepared for November.