In 2019 a girl under the age of 10 was raped by a 41-year-old man after he led her away from her house and the protection of her mother and family in order to do so.
Last Friday, July 23, convicted rapist, Karl Telemaque, a barber of Bequia, was sentenced to 19 years imprisonment for the crime of having sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 13. Telemaque also received a three year prison sentence for indecently assaulting her, and two years for her abduction.
The jury unanimously convicted him after a full trial, believing the prosecution’s case, which was led by crown counsel Maria Jackson-Richards.
The young victim, not yet a teenager, managed to take the stand in the matter to testify.
It was accepted by the jury that on March 25, 2019, the offender visited the young girl’s home. Present at the home was the child’s mother, her older sister, and two male guests. Asking what they wanted to drink, Telemaque left and returned with beer for the adults and malt for the children. He stayed as the children danced, and a while later he indicated that he was leaving. A few minutes after this the youngest child went onto the porch of the house and observed Telemaque in the yard. He called out to her and gave her $10, and told her not to tell her mother about it. The child went into her bedroom, put away the bill and returned.
Telemaque then held her hand and took her away to a nearby field, under a mango tree. He first inappropriately touched the child on her genitals, and then undressed her, put her to lie down, and raped her. At some point the child told him that it was late and her mother locked the door. Telemaque stopped, she dressed herself and then went home. However, the door was locked and she had to knock to be let inside. The mother believed her to be inside her room, and was surprised to find her outside. Questions followed, until the young child told her sister what had happened. The mother and sister saw Telemaque in an adjoining field and the mother challenged him to come but he responded by turning and leaving.
The matter was reported to the police the following day.
These were the facts as summed up by Justice Brian Cottle, who was delivering the sentence against the convicted man.
Telemaque, who was not represented by a lawyer, was asked if he had anything he wanted to say before he was sentenced.
In response he told the court that as long as he knew himself he had never been convicted for anything “at all”, and asked for leniency.
However, the Judge had the offender’s criminal record before him which reflected at least four offences, including two instances of assault causing actual bodily harm, an instance of criminal assault and one for possession of cannabis.
Each time Cottle asked Telemaque if he remembered these offences. On some occasions he admitted he did, and in some cases, he said he did not.
“So, when you tell me that you have no convictions that’s not entirely true?” the Judge asked him.
Telemaque said that he thought conviction meant being sent to prison.
“No, conviction is when you are found guilty,” Cottle explained. “…Perhaps in your case that may explain why it is you feel that it’s okay to do things as long as you don’t go to prison.”
“…Now it’s not a good idea to tell me things in mitigation which are not true. So you started by telling me that you have no convictions, that’s not true. What else do you have to tell me?” Cottle questioned.
The now 44-year-old spoke about the youngest child of his four children, who is four years old.
When it was time for the Justice to deliver his sentence, he repeated the four overall aims of sentencing that they are to keep in mind: retribution, deterrence, prevention, and rehabilitation.
The maximum penalty for the offence of sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 13 is life imprisonment, which in St Vincent and the Grenadines(SVG) is the equivalent of 30 years incarceration.
Using the sentening guidelines of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Cottle began the process by establishing a starting point.
”In order to do that the court must have regard for the seriousness of the offence and the consequences by reference to the harm caused,” he explained.
“The guidelines set out a list of factors which are not exhaustive but they do assist the court to place the offence in its correct category. In this case I begin by placing this offence in category one in terms of consequences,” he stated, which is the highest category. He said that he did so because the victim was a child under the age of ten.
The Justice also categorised the seriousness in Level A or the highest. “I arrive at that conclusion because there was a significant age disparity,” the child was abducted from her home and there was breach of trust.
Following this, the grid suggests a starting point of between 50 and 80% of the maximum sentence. Choosing to start at 66% of 30 years, the notional sentence arrived at was 20 years.
In determining the sentence, aggravating and mitigation factors are considered.
“Aggravating of this offence is the fact that this was a child of very tender years, also aggravating is the fact that she was particularly vulnerable because of her strained economic circumstances,” the court official noted.
On the other side, there was no gratuitous violence other than what is inherent in the offence itself, and there are no relevant past convictions known to the court.
Telemaque had been on remand for 17 days at the time of sentencing. Therefore, as at last Friday, his remaining sentence was 18 years, 11 months and two weeks.
For the offence of indecent assault, the court was again assisted by sentencing guidelines and started at 60% of the maximum of five years, to arrive at three years. The aggravating and mitigating features are the same, and no further adjustments were made because of these.
Although there are no sentencing guidelines for abduction, because of previous cases the court was able to arrive at a sentence of two years in prison. The sentences will run concurrently as they arise from a single incident. Telemaque will therefore serve a further18 years, 11 months and two weeks in jail.