An eight-year-old girl who attended a session on child sexual abuse at her school two weeks after she was raped by a 19-year-old man, was then led to report her violator.
Seven years later, the now 26-year-old man was convicted for the unlawful sexual intercourse of a girl under the age of 13, and yesterday, December 3, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The nine-member jury, split seven to two, was convinced that the evidence presented by the prosecution, led by crown counsel Shackell Bobb, was the truth.
Kawanie Williams was thereby found to have, on November 16, 2013, committed the crime while the eight-year-old girl was at his house being tutored by his sister.
At first, on the day in question, Williams’ sister and the young girl were by themselves, and the child was getting help with her homework.
Williams’ sister then went into the kitchen to prepare food for them both, after which she went to lie down in a bedroom, leaving the child in another room.
Kawanie then came home to get some food, before entering the room where the child was, and proceeded to pull her into his bedroom. Although she resisted this, he managed to get her into the bedroom, where he undressed and raped her. He ejaculated onto a rug.
He told the child to get dressed and return to the room she was in before.
At the time she did not say a word about the incident, but about two weeks later there was a session at the school the child attended which dealt with child sexual abuse.
The young girl reported the incident to her teacher, who told the Principal, and then her mother was informed. Finally, they reported the matter to the police.
Lawyer Stephen Williams mitigated for the prisoner.
He said that his client was 19 years at the time of the offence.
In giving background, the counsel noted that his client is the third child of five children, “is a Christian and regularly attends the Miracle Tabernacle Church in Green Hill.”
He attended the Bethel High School, dropping out at form three, and attended the Kingstown Technical Institute for a period of one year, before quitting and seeking employment as a welder.
He has no dependants, but did not have any convictions of a similar nature before this one.
The defence lawyer submitted that, based on case law, a sentence of 10 years should be imposed.
Justice Brian Cottle, in considering the sentence he was going to impose, began by considering the contents of the victim impact statement.
The teen wrote in her statement that she experienced feelings of depression and anxiety.
“She felt betrayed by someone she regarded as a family friend. She now has problems trusting others,” the Justice noted.
“She received counselling at school but she still blames herself for not knowing how to complete her schoolwork and having to seek assistance. She has endured taunts at the hands of fellow students, she has had to learn how to ignore this,” he continued.
The offender’s sister described the victim, during the trial, as being “academically slow”.
The judge indicated that the appropriate reference for sentencing would be the sexual offences sentencing guidelines made by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC).
In determining where to begin in sentencing, the seriousness of the offence is categorized, by the recognition of certain factors being present in the crime.
“In this case the virtual complainant is eight years old. As a child under 10, this places the offence in the category of exceptional when one considers the consequences of the offence,” Cottle explained.
He placed the serious level at A, the highest, “Because there was an abuse of a position of trust and the disparity in age was significant, the prisoner was 11 years older than the virtual complainant.”
This would lead him to choose a point between 50 and 80 per cent of the maximum sentence for this offence, which is 30 years in prison.
The judge considered the child’s mental state, and that she was particularly vulnerable because of her age.
He started at 60 per cent of 30 years, which is 18 years’ incarceration.
There were some mitigating factors to take into account: no violence beyond the violence inherent in the crime; the young age of the offender; and no previous convictions save and except one for burglary.
This caused the sentence to decrease by three years to 15 years.
Since the guilty verdict two weeks ago, Williams has spent 11 days in prison, so this was subtracted.
From today, Friday, December 4, 2020, he has 14 years, 11 months, and 18 days left of his sentence.