A 36-year-old man formerly of Friendship, East Bank Demerara (EBD), was sentenced to two life terms on Monday by the Sexual Offences Court in Demerara after he was convicted of raping and robbing a 20-year-old woman at gunpoint. The man, Ronald Armstrong called “Sargie”, was found unanimously guilty of both offences which occurred on January 22, 2013, back in June.
Presiding Judge Priya Sewnarine-Beharry sentenced the convict to life imprisonment on both charges, ordering that he is to begin serving the sentence after he completes a four-year jail sentence for an earlier conviction on a robbery under arms charge.
The Judge, in her sentencing remarks, said the court was compelled to impose a sentence that is commensurate with the serious nature and prevalence of the offences. In arriving at an appropriate penalty, she also considered the physical, psychological, and emotional trauma the woman was left to endure; that a deadly weapon, a gun, was used during the commissioning of the offences; and that Armstrong committed the crimes while he was on bail for other offences.
According to the Judge, the convict expressed no remorse for his actions, and given his previous brushes with the law, there is a high likelihood that he will re-offend.
“In this case, the aggravating factors greatly outweigh the mitigating factors,” said the Judge while noting that the court must protect society from persons like Armstrong.
In her impact statement read by the prosecutor State Counsel Caressa Henry, the rape survivor described Armstrong, a former labourer, as a “weak-minded, deranged, sadistic monster and a pitiful excuse of a human being”.
Although the incident occurred almost a decade ago, the woman, who is now 29, shared that she is still a sad, anxious, and broken person who was once whole. While she accepted she has to live with this, she, however, said this is her rapist’s “cross to bear.”
For years, she explained that she blamed herself for what happened to her. “I blamed myself, I was angry at myself, I questioned everything I did and did not do, every action…” But with time, she said, she has finally allowed herself to be angry at Armstrong.
Recounting the ordeal, the victim pointed out that when she screamed, the perpetrator stuffed her mouth with cloth, while pointing a gun at her then eight-month-old baby. She recalled that all her attempts to get away from him were unsuccessful.
“I couldn’t protect myself and it kills me. I felt like I died that night. A piece of me did die that night,” she added.
Notwithstanding, she said that she is thankful that her daughter has no recollection of the horrible incident.
According to her, returning home after the incident was equally distressing due to the trauma. She shared that she felt uneasy around her father, husband and brother, and other men.
“I hope every day that you are tormented by your violent actions. I hope you can’t sleep at night because of what you did to me. I don’t think I will ever be able to forgive you. But I want to forget you because when I think about you and your actions towards me, it makes me sick to my stomach,” the woman told Armstrong, who appeared in court virtually.
Even though she is still undergoing therapy, the rape survivor noted that she is scarred for life and still feels broken. She added that Armstrong may have wounded her body but not her spirit.
“I am alive; I am determined and I will empower myself. I wish you a very long life in jail Ronald Armstrong!” she ended.
According to court documents, the woman was at home on January 22, 2013, with her baby and sister who were both sleeping. While the victim was in the bathroom doing laundry, she was confronted by Armstrong, who was armed with a gun, and two other men.
Armstrong demanded gold and other valuables from the woman while threatening to injure her baby if she did not cooperate. Afraid for her life, she handed over several pieces of gold jewellery her baby was wearing as well as some she had stored in a cabinet.
He then pulled her into a bedroom, placed her on a bed, and raped her until she passed out. The victim was revived by her sister, who was also raped by one of Armstrong’s accomplices after the men left the house. The men robbed the women of two televisions and two laptops. Armstrong was represented by defence counsel Everton Singh-Lammy.
He is currently serving a four-year prison sentence for two counts of robbery under arms.
While armed with a knife, he robbed two elderly women, in 2020, of $50,000 and a cell phone valued at $20,000. The robbery occurred at their Friendship, EBD, home.
Meanwhile, in July 2014, he was jailed for 50 months after he was found guilty of trafficking 181 grams of marijuana and conveying 32 packs of cigarettes into the prison.