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Judge Stephenson, front, at opening of court
Judge Stephenson, front, at opening of court

A 29 year old man received a reprieve from trial judge Justice Birnie Stephenson when he stood before her for sentencing on a guilty verdict of indecent assault at the Roseau High Court on Tuesday, November 11, 2014.

Judge Stephenson fined him $3,000 to be paid in six months or to 12 months in prison if he defaulted on that payment.

The man who was 26 at the time of his offence asked "for mercy on me. I ask that for a little mercy on me."

As court statements suggested, it was in a north eastern community when on the night of September 30, 2011 a girl 11 years 11 months old was asleep in her parents' home when she was awakened by someone touching her leg. She got up and saw the defendant touching her. She got out of her bed and went in search of her parents and found them absent. She eventually told her parents, the matter was reported to the police, investigated and the man charged with indecent assault.

According to the court, the sentence for such an offence on a person under 14 years is 10 years in prison, that's how serious the state legislation feels about that offence. Justice Stephenson also made the point that offences against minors was becoming more and more prevalent, going on to comment on the high number of these offences on the current criminal assizes.

The accused, who tried to conduct his defence in a trial which lasted one day, on Friday October 10, 2014 before a jury of five men and four men, frequented the house of the virtual complainant. The family treated him as a trusted friend and allowed him to watch cricket on their television, and he had breached that trust.

He admitted in the police report to touching the virtual complainant, but never really admitted to committing the offence. The mitigating factors in his favour were that he had no previous convictions and no violence was visited on the girl. Her Ladyship after looking after the entire case was of the view it was more an error of judgement than intent on the part of the accused. The interviews of people in the community in the Welfare Officer's report also indicated that error of judgement on the part of the defendant. The judge fined him $3,000 to be paid in six months or face 12 months in prison.

Discontinued

Another young man from a north eastern community was even more fortunate when the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions indicated to High Court Judge, Justice Birnie Stephenson on Monday November 17, 2014 that the DPP had filed documents discontinuing a case against him.

The man was charged with unlawful sexual intercourse and indecent assault on a girl aged 13 years eight months on April 30, 2013.

Judge Stephenson told the momentarily uncomprehending man that he was free to leave, the matter against him having been discontinued.