Activists call for review of sex offender sentencing

| 27/02/2013

(CNS): The recent community outcry over a suspended sentence given to a sex offender has resulted in local activists starting a video petition calling on legislators to review legislation and sentencing guidelines. While the case in question caused concerns, the judge had sentenced according to the local guidelines as the man was convicted on a charge of defilement and not rape. This was as a result of the decision by the Office of the  Director of Public Prosecutions not to press ahead with the rape charge but to accept his guilty plea on the second count of defilement. Activists are now seeking a review of the criminal justice system relating to sex crimes and in particular those involving children. 

“This is not about revenge or getting even," a spokesperson for the campaign said.  “This is about determining what kind of society we would like to be.”

Following the revelations about the case (see CNS story here) where the teen was sexually assaulted, the community was outraged by what some believe was a light touch with the two year suspended sentence. Activists are now pushing for a major review and debate about the issues surrounding the complexities and sensitivities associated with victims and offenders.

“There are no words to express how thoroughly we, as a community, have failed this child and so many others like her,” said Carolina Ferreira about the teen victim in Friday’s case. “Child sexual abuse is a complex, multi-faceted issue that will require a multi-organisational, holistic solution.  However, as is clearly illustrated by this case, a starting point is to review the cases and sentencing guidelines as this is clearly not the message that we want to send to our children about their worth.”

The activists are asking people to video their support for the petition to help raise the profile of the message. Ferreira said campaigners want supporters to record themselves reading the petition on their computers, smartphone or tablet and email it to Once compiled, the video will be disseminated via email, You Tube, Facebook and any other media possible, she added.

The petition text is as follows:

I, (insert name here), am outraged, disheartened and disgusted by the fact that our current legal system is such that an adult who admits guilt over sexually assaulting a child is given more consideration than the victim of his/her crime. I *demand* that our elected representatives- and that means you:

Juliana O'Connor Connolly, Rolston Anglin, Mark Scotland, Cline Glidden, Dwayne Seymour, Alden McLaughlin, Kurt Tibbetts, Moses Kirkconnell, Anthony Eden, Ezzard Miller, Arden McLean, McKeeva Bush, Mike Adam, Ellio Solomon, and Eugene Ebanks-make the issue of child welfare, and more specifically child sexual abuse, a matter of priority and give it not only the attention but the action that it requires.  This is a multi-faceted, complex issue which will require a multi-sectorial, holistic solution. 

However, it is clear that a starting point is by doing a comprehensive review of the cases of child rape, assault and defilement and the current sentencing guidelines being used by judges.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    How can this happen? It is statutary rape, no doubt about it. Any man who has done this should not be free to roam the streets. Imagine what seeing this man again will do to this child. Yes, she is a child and our justice system is failing her. 

  2. Anonymous says:

    If they won't take the case back to the court, the family should sue the Prosecution and the man.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Of course!  There needs to be a review of this particular case. If a man rapes a 13 year girl… has his children / family to take care of, Justin Quin, and you have boys who are found with guns getting 10 years and not firing a shot, then why can't this man receive his mental treatments on a probation order with an electronic monitoring device as to his whereabouts. Think of the victim's fear that this man is free and could decide to come after her. Your justice seems imbalanced to me. If the man cant go to jail for the offense, at least place a montoring device on him so after work he goes straight home to his wife.

    • Anonymous says:

      This whole mental health thing and the lack of facilities here to deal with it is disturbing.  We have a mad man with dreads who rides around on a bike in BT cursing and threatening almost anyone for no reason frequently, and he's even been seen smashing up other people's stuff on the beach.  Yet the police say they can do nothing about him because he has mental health issues.  So they leave him alone and prosecute those that try to defend themselves from his nasty and vicious assaults.  This is plain wrong.  Something should be done to detain people like this in a safe place away from the public.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I don't see that this reflects a problem with the legislation if it provides for a maximum of 12 years for this offence but this offender was sentenced to only 2 years, suspended.

    The 2002 Sentencing Guidelines provide as follows:

    "If the victim is over 12 but under 16 years of age, the Law prescribes a maximum penalty of 7 years. The Courts regard all sexual offences as very serious and all too prevalent. While the actual age of the girl within each category and the circumstances of the offence will always be important considerations, the basic tariff here will be 5 years where the offender had no reasonable cause to believe or did not in fact believe that the girl was above the age of 16 years".

    First, the sentencing guidelines are out of date as they refer to lower maximum penalties than are stated in the current Law. Section 134(2) of the Penal Code (2010 Revision) provides 12 years (and not 7) as the maximum for defilement of a girl between the ages of 12 and 16. It follows that the basic tariff must be therefore increased from 5 years to perhaps 9 years to reflect the new maximum sentence AND there is no question that the offender  knew the age of the girl so that basic tariff should not apply in this case. Add to that the offender was in a position of trust and at age 13 the girl fell near to the bottom of that 12-16 age range, but taking account of the guilty plea and no previous convictions, we should have been looking at at least 8 years imprisonment.  

    The problem is: (a) the sentencing guidelines which need to be reviewed and updated; and (b) the application of the sentencing guidelines by the judge. I don't see how a 2 year suspended sentence arises even given the current outdated guidelines. Perhaps we should focus our complaint to the Chief Justice rather than the MLAs who seem to have done their job having increased the maximum sentence from 7 to 12 years.



    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps a minimum sentence shuld be a part of the guidlines. 

      • Anonymous says:

        The trouble is that the lowest end of the scale does not reflect most defilement cases so the minimum would not help. E.g. how would you sentence a 17 year old boy who had sex with his 15 year old girlfriend on a purely consensual basis?  It would probably not warrant a custodial sentence.   

  5. noname says:

    I suggest that the governor consider removing from the justice system judges who hand down such ridiculously soft sentences for such hardened criminals.

    Mean time activist groups please force the appeal and review of this case, do not let it go down as a defeat. Force another judge to hear the case, have the lawyer appeal it.

    the's something called the APPEALS COURT!

    • Anonymous says:

      The Governor doesn’t have the power to remove a judge, for obvious reasons. The only way to discipline a judge is by complaining about his/her behavior to the Judicial and Legal Services Commission.

      And thats a fact, however much you may choose to thumbs-down it.