Rape will not be tolerated in SVG
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May 27, 2011
Rape will not be tolerated in SVG

Justice Frederick Bruce-Lyle sent a clear message yesterday, Thursday, May 26, that rape will not be tolerated in St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

The High Court judge sentenced Georgetown resident, Oscar Charles to 15 years imprisonment, after a nine member jury found him guilty on charges of buggery and unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 13.

He was given 15 year sentences on both counts, but the sentences will run concurrently.

“These kinds of offences are becoming too prevalent in society and the courts need to make a statement that society will not tolerate rape, especially against a young girl of 10 years old,” said Bruce-Lyle.

When the 11-year-old rape victim shared the chilling details of her ordeal on Wednesday, May 25, her testimony was enough to raise the eyebrows of jurors and others seated in the courtroom at the Criminal Assizes of the High Court.

As she walked past her attacker en route to the witness stand, the girl held her head straight and placed her right hand up over the right side of her face.

The girl told the court that on March 8, 2010, she had just bought lunch at about 10:45 that morning, after which she headed to the girls’ washroom. While there, she said Charles came into the washroom holding a knife in his hand.

“He told me to take off my clothes and I didn’t …he told me to take off my clothes again, and I took them off because I was scared and nothing like that ever happened to me,” she recounted.

She then described how Charles repeatedly raped her.

Shortly after, the girl said she heard knocking on the washroom door and it was her father and other schoolmates. She said she opened the door and told her father that Oscar Charles had just raped her.

The court heard that Charles attempted to flee the washroom by jumping over walls to access the male bathroom, as the child’s father attempted to capture him. He, however, made his escape through the nearby cemetery.

When asked by prosecutor Colin John if she was sure it was Charles who raped her, the girl replied loudly: “Yes, please!”

The girl said the defendant is no stranger to her as he used to visit her aunt from time to time.

The child’s father, who also took the witness stand, said when he went to the washroom, he met his daughter naked and then saw Charles attempting to flee the scene.

The man said he was unable to capture him and later went home for his choppy (cutlass) and returned in search of Charles.

The testimony of medical practitioner Dr Subheududikash Debnath revealed that the girl’s vaginal orifice was partially removed and bruising was seen around the anus and vagina.

The unrepresented Charles, who appeared barefoot in court, took the stand to give his account of what transpired.

He told the court that he and another man were liming not too far from the school when he saw the child pass at approximately 8 am. He said the girl came and sat in his lap, but he quickly pushed her off.

He then carried the court through a journey of a cellular phone matter when he was in jail, in his attempt to link it to the incident. In his defence, Charles said he was the victim of a conspiracy to destroy him.

“Me know to myself, me no do that…Is some other man, not me,” Charles said.

When the case adjourned on Wednesday, presiding judge, Frederick Bruce-Lyle gave Charles the opportunity to call the man who he said he was liming with that morning, to give testimony on his behalf.

When the man showed up in court yesterday, he refuted Charles’ claim that the little girl sat in his lap. He further noted that he never saw the little girl that morning, but rather later in the day.

“You know the damage you have caused to her psyche? You will realise how traumatized she was when she hid her face yesterday,” Bruce-Lyle said.

“In view of the seriousness of the offence, and the fact that this court is going to make a statement, I am sentencing you to 15 years,” the judge ruled.