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Judge puzzled at high rate of repeat prisoners given the conditions in prison

Judge puzzled at high rate of repeat prisoners given the conditions in prison
High Court Justice, Brian Cottle

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by Katherine Renton

An informational visit to Her Majesty’s Prison has caused High Court Justice, Brian Cottle, to conclude that the conditions there are “absolutely appalling”.
This Tuesday, the judge was engaged in delivering a decision on whether two men, Kenny Edwards and Askey Roberts, who had been sentenced to two years in prison, should be given a suspended sentence instead. This would grant them freedom, with the condition that they should not commit any offences for a certain time, or be sent back to prison immediately.

“I have had cause to visit Her Majesty’s Prison. I find conditions there to be absolutely appalling, and I do not understand how it is that a person who has once had that experience, would risk ever having it repeated,” he told the two prisoners.

He continued that it is with a “great deal of puzzlement” that he looks at the statistics, and observes, still, there is a high rate of repeaters.
“I don’t know if your experience at Her Majesty’s Prisons or the impact it had on you, was anywhere near the impact that my visit had on me,” he stated, adding, “If it’s anything along those lines, you do not wish to return there.”

Judge puzzled at high rate of repeat prisoners given the conditions in prison
Askey Roberts (left) and Kenny Edwards

Roberts and Edwards were sentenced on December 7, 2018, for the offence of unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 13, after having pleaded guilty in November. The most pivotal element of the mitigation on behalf of the two, was that the mother of the victim, as well as the victim, presently 16 years, made sworn statements expressing forgiveness for the two.

Roberts and Edwards raped her on July 12, 2014, when she was 12 years old. The two men, who were then 18 and 19 years old respectively, were said to have dragged her under a house when she was trying to walk home. They were walking in front of her, and turned around and demanded sexual intercourse from her.

They were sentenced to two years in prison after a long mitigation from their lawyer Duane Daniel, who read the affidavits of the mother and daughter.

However, Justice Cottle adjourned the matter to determine whether this two year sentence should be suspended, and Roberts and Edwards have been in jail
over this period.

On Tuesday, the judge noted that the mother and daughter had testified under oath that they were confident that the two had learned from their “youthful mistake,” that they had forgiven them, and wished for them not to spend any more time in jail.

“That is a very unusual set of circumstances,” Cottle stated.

The judge also noted that “long before” the matter came to court, Roberts and Edwards had approached the mother and daughter, and admitted their crime, and asked for forgiveness. Further, he commented, “…Indeed they said that they had been minded to offer no evidence at your trial. Had it not been for your guilty plea, there might have been no conviction.”

On the other hand, the offence is a very serious offence, he stated, “It must not be a signal by the court or thought by any other potential offenders, that these are… offences which will be treated lightly.”

In the end, the judge decided, “I’m going to allow you the opportunity to decide by your conduct, whether you wish to return to Her Majesty’s Prisons.”

He suspended the two year prison sentence for two years, and explained to the prisoners that they will serve this two year sentence should they commit any offences in the next two years.

Cottle informed the two that they were being given an opportunity, and urged them, “Don’t disappoint me, and don’t disappoint the complainant. Don’t disappoint her mother.”

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