Jury finds prison officer not guilty of rape
From the Courts, News
December 1, 2023
Jury finds prison officer not guilty of rape

A jury has found a prison officer not guilty of raping a young woman with whom he had sexual relations, but who drew the line at penetration.

“Devoted Christian, naive, religious, virgin and young” were some of the adjectives used by the prosecution and witnesses to describe the complainant who consented to sexual activities with the man, but not sexual intercourse.

The prosecution’s case, which was led by Senior Crown Counsel Richie Maitland, with the assistance of Crown Counsel Renee Simmons, was that on July 2, 2020 at Villa, Andy Browne raped the virtual complainant.

The virtual complainant said that she met Browne on the beach in Villa in June 2020. They exchanged social media contacts, then began going out with each other just a few days after they met.

The complainant said that on one occasion when she went out with Browne, he suggested that they go to a house in Villa at around 10:15 pm. She said they cuddled, talked and kissed, but she told him on several occasions that she did not want to have sex with him as she was saving herself for marriage.

She said they “made out,” he “fondled” her breasts, and they were “dry humping” with clothes on. She added that she did not feel good doing it, because she knew that she was not supposed to be engaging in such activities, but “I wanted to be someone other than myself”.

The complainant said that after spending time with Browne at the house, he took her home, and on July 2 they went out again. While deciding where to spend the day, Browne suggested the same house in Villa, to which the complainant said she consented.

The complainant said on arrival at the house, she was sitting on the edge of the bed and Browne began to remove some of his clothes and then sat next to her while she was fully clothed. She said she asked him how he felt about her “saving herself for marriage” to which she claimed that he responded by calling her “stupid”.

She said they bickered as result of his comment, but started talking and kissing afterwards, after he “attempted to apologise”.

“It got more intimate…he sort of came between my legs. We were kissing and he asked for permission to remove my pants…I was uncomfortable with it, but he said he wanted to find a release…”

The complainant said she reminded him of her no sex rule, and that Browne began to “rub” his penis against her vagina with her underwear on. She said that he asked if he could move her underwear to the side and she reluctantly consented, hoping he would be satisfied with that.

The complainant said that she suddenly felt “a sharp pain” as she screamed and fought Browne, who she claimed pinned her to the bed, penetrated her, and choked her, and in attempt to escape she cut her finger on a latch on the bedroom door. She said that she later found out that a video was taken of the incident.

Browne declined to testify in the case.

However, while defence counsel Grant Connell was cross examining the investigating officer Josette Galley, the police officer admitted that she did not look for blood stains at the crime scene, did not instruct the police IT department to look for a video, did not take the bed sheets for forensic purposes, did not ask the virtual complainant to go back in the position she claimed she was in, did not take any jottings while at the crime scene, and did not secure the underwear.

“To this day, do you have any information to present to this honourable court about a video…three years later? By the time you charged him, did you complete the examination of his phone? His phone was a part of the investigation? Did you get back the findings? Anything in those findings popped out at you?” There was a video? The conversation you asked the IT department only dealt with certain things?”

Galley responded to all Connell’s questions by saying: “I cannot recall…”

“According to the virtual complainant, there was penetration. Case done. That’s it?” Connell questioned, as he asked the investigator if “all the evidence…you had was the evidence from [the virtual complainant]?

“How you can’t recall something you never did,” Connell later commented in his final submissions.

Acting Corporal of Police Roland Dasent also said that he did not take a photo of the latch on the door, he did not take any sheets in his possession, he saw no blood, and did not know how the door was secured.

The argument of the defence was simply that the virtual complainant and Browne went to the house together, and engaged in sexual activities, but there was no sexual intercourse.

“The police in St Vincent and the Grenadines have a duty to men as well. When investigating reports of rape, they must do proper investigations before they charge.

“The establishing of a forensic lab in SVG at soonest is crucial. The cost factor to have these tests done must not be a consideration if justice is the common denominator in the equation. DNA testing is crucial,” Connell told SEARCHLIGHT at the end of the trial, as he explained the crux of his argument which he put before the court.

Connell’s argument found favour with the jury, as after a 10-day trial, they returned a verdict in favour of Browne, sending him home a free man, with tears in his eyes.