A 51-year old man of a north-eastern community will spend the next 35 years at the Stock Farm Prison after appearing before trial judge Justice Errol Thomas at the Roseau High Court on Friday, December 11, 2015 for sentencing.

A jury of seven women and two men found the 51-year old Joseph Senhouse guilty of unlawful sexual intercourse, buggery and indecent assault on an eight-year old girl.

The trial lasted seven days in mid-November.

Dawn Yearwood-Stuart who conducted the defence for the prisoner cited two mitigating factors when Joseph appeared for his sentence; namely, that no violence was used outside of what was set out in the offence and that as a child he experienced verbal and physical abuse at the hands of his mother who eventually threw him out of her house when he was 12 years.

Stuart urged Judge Thomas to temper justice with mercy in sentencing, to not throw away the key and give the convict the opportunity to return to society.

In addressing the court, Justice Thomas first commended the probation officers over and over again for their punctuality and thoroughness in preparing the reports which assist the court in arriving at a just sentence.

The judge cited the psychological and emotional damage on the girl and indeed young sexual victims both boys and girls, and the effects of such assaults. He noted that the prisoner had been sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1997 for unlawful carnal knowledge. He described the virtual complainant as fragile looking and seemingly less than 70 pounds at 10 years old.

He would call the child, the mother of whom he had a sexual relationship with. He would take advantage of her then give her juice, fruits and cash, at one time $2 and on another occasion $5 and then tell her to tell no one.

The judge added that early introduction to sex could hamper the education of the victim, and no one would ever know what that child could have achieved. He characterized the felon as a person without a conscience, and lacked humanity.

Justice Thomas went on to sentence Senhouse to 25 years in prison for unlawful sexual intercourse and 25 years for buggery to run concurrently and 10 years in prison for indecent assault to run after the joint 25-year sentences with time taken out while on remand.

Judge Thomas also ordered that the prisoner be seen by chief psychiatrist Dr. Griffin Benjamin for evaluation so that he can receive appropriate treatment if necessary.

Justice Thomas, after passing sentence, added that the prisoner was no stranger to that kind of behaviour and seemed to have no compassion whatsoever.

Recently, child care advocates have been calling for a review of the Sexual Offences Act to have a more deterrent impact on offenders because of increases in the number of cases of child sexual abuse.