Convict challenges 25-year sentence for child rape

0
Inteaz Mohamed
Inteaz Mohamed

A minibus driver who is now serving 25 years in prison for raping a 15-year-old schoolgirl has applied to the Guyana Court of Appeal to set aside his conviction and sentence. Sanjeev Datadin, the lawyer for 44-year-old Inteaz Mohammed recently filed a notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal.

In the document, Mohammed states that he is wholly dissatisfied with the conviction and sentence of the High Court and outlined several grounds upon which he intends to rely.  In his ground of appeal against sentencing, he contends that the prison term is unduly severe and/or harsh.

The court is yet to fix a date for hearing this matter. Mohammed called “Uncle Shameer”, 44, of Success, East Coast Demerara was convicted of the offence by a jury in June. Trial Judge Brassington Reynolds imposed the custodial sentence on him following a trial at the High Court in Demerara.

Between September 1 and 30, 2014, and January 1 and 30, 2015, in the county of Demerara, Mohammed raped the underage girl. The jury’s verdict in relation to both indictments was unanimous.

Mohammed and the 15-year-old girl are known to each other. At that time, he operated a school bus and would transport the teenager to and from school. In September 2014, Mohammed picked up the girl from school, transported her to a dark, bushy area, and raped her.

The court heard that Mohammed threatened to kill himself and the young girl if she told anyone about what had happened. Again, in January 2015, Mohammed picked up the girl from lessons, took her to the same location, and raped her. The following month, the girl’s elder brother started to pick her up from lessons. This continued until she finished school.

Mohammed got a hold of her phone number and began harassing her. Sometime after, he went to her home while her mother was out and gave her a letter and threatened to kill her if she disclosed its content. The girl later confided in her brother. A Police report was made, and the man was arrested.

Through a victim impact statement, the young girl expressed how the actions of Mohammed have affected her. “Being raped was the worst and most painful thing I ever experienced. I felt scared, helpless, and traumatised. He [Mohammed] was a monster to me. I was depressed dealing with the painful memories by myself; it was difficult. I felt like my body wasn’t mine anymore.”

The young lady said that she is unable to forgive the man for what he has done to her. She revealed that due to the sexual violence meted out on her, she is not only unable to trust another person but is also suffering from sleep deprivation as she is haunted by memories of the ordeal.

The victim said, “I was living in fear every day. Fear took over me, many nights I cried myself to sleep. Inteaz continued to harass me, him being in front of me every day was torture to deal with.”

Expressing satisfaction with Mohammed’s conviction, she added, “I am now pleased he is away from me. I can finally resume my life where I can continue my studies. I am hoping that he is kept away from me for as long as possible so that I can be safe and live my life…”

On this note, the young girl asked Justice Reynolds to impose the maximum penalty on the rapist.

In brief remarks to the court, Mohammed said, “I would begin with asking this court to be lenient on me and to have mercy on me. I have been accused wrongfully. I have a daughter who is 16 years old, and she would be punished more than me. I came with one thing in mind to prove my innocence. I didn’t commit this act,” convicted child rapist Mohamed said in brief remarks to the court.”

Justice Reynolds, in his sentencing remarks, said the courts have taken note of the continuing disregard by bus and taxi drivers who continue to consider schoolgirls as “theirs for the taking”.

“Bus drivers across the breadth and length of our country, drivers who continue to consider schoolgirls who travel in their busses and cars to go to school as theirs for the taking. Our courts most continue to set its faces against such behaviour,” he made clear.

Against this backdrop, Justice Reynolds stressed that the “courts must send a message to those who may be harbouring such beastly thoughts.”

While Mohammed has no previous brushes with the law, the Judge said that this must be weighed against the predatory manner in which he betrayed the trust imposed on him by the victim.

Although the Judge pointed out that a life sentence would be the best way to remove Mohammed from the rest of society whose values and norms, he has flagrantly betrayed, he pointed out that consideration had to be given to several determinants in arriving at an appropriate jail term.

Among those considered by Justice Reynolds were the convict’s favourable probation report, his age, home, and economic circumstances, and the fact that he has no previous antecedents.

Having given credence to the foregoing, the Judge disclosed that he was inclined to impose a term of years, instead of life imprisonment. As such, Mohammed was jailed for 25 years on each of the two counts of rape. The sentences will however be served concurrently.

Meanwhile, a probation report revealed that Mohammed’s family members described him as a helpful, caring, and kind person who was not involved in criminal activities. Persons in his community also stated that he was well-mannered.

They nevertheless said that they were shocked and saddened at his involvement in the crime.

A probation officer disclosed that the convict expressed no remorse and stated that he was “scared to death for the outcome of the matter” and preferred “a rope around his neck.”

According to the probation officer, the nature of the offence Mohammed committed against the girl is even more heinous since he violated her trust. “The act of abuse is a plight in our society. And those who commit such acts must be condignly dealt with by the law…,” the officer noted.