Declaring that the prison sentence of 10 years prescribed in law for the offence of sexual activity with a child under 16 is “wholly insufficient”, Justice Sandil Kissoon’s hands were tied, as he was legally bound to impose the said sentence on an interdicted Policeman.
Wayde Padmore, 25, a father of one, who enlisted in the Guyana Police Force (GPF) in 2017, was found guilty last month of engaging in sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl in October 2020.
On the charge which alleged that he raped the teen, the jury was unable to arrive at a verdict, and as such, he will have to be retried for that offence. Padmore was further found not guilty by the mixed 12-member jury of causing the girl to watch a sexual act.
According to the prosecution’s facts, Padmore was a regular visitor to the girl’s home as he is known to her family. The prosecution had contended that he raped her in December 2019.
In October 2020, according to the prosecution, he attempted to rape the girl for a second time, but when he was unsuccessful, he engaged in sexual activity with her and allegedly masturbated in her presence until he ejaculated.
During Padmore’s sentencing hearing on Friday, a probation officer revealed that the sex offender has a three-year-old son. Padmore, he added, who was the best graduating student of his training batch, was interdicted from duties after his involvement in the crime.
Padmore’s mother and spouse, during an interview with the probation officer, related that it was “inconceivable” that he would commit such an act given his good upbringing.
The victim, who is now 16, and is preparing to sit the May/June 2023 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, expressed that she felt “disgusted” after the incident and contemplated harming herself. She asked the Judge to impose the maximum sentence on him.
During a plea in mitigation, Padmore’s lawyer, Clyde Forde, submitted that a grave miscarriage of justice has been occasioned as a result of the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to dispose of the charge for the offence of sexual activity with a child under 16, on indictment (in the High Court).
He reasoned that if the charge was determined in the Magistrate’s Court (summary disposal), it would have attracted a lesser jail term, a sentence of five years.
Section 11 (3) of the Sexual Offences Act of 2010 states that a person who is convicted of sexual activity with a child under 16, is liable on summary conviction to a sentence of five years and on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for 10 years.
Justice Kissoon, however, said that the law gives the DPP the discretion to choose how to dispose of the matter, especially if she believes the circumstances of the case warrant a harsher punishment.
Forde, nevertheless, implored Justice Kissoon to “temper justice with mercy”, asking that his client be given a suspended sentence along with two years of supervised probation.
State Counsel Caressa Henry, on behalf of the prosecution, implored the court to impose a sentence that is commensurate with the gravity of the crime. She added: This accused [Padmore] has shown no genuine remorse. Although he has been found guilty by a jury of his peers, he has not accepted responsibility for his actions that violated a young girl…”
Given Padmore’s conduct, Justice Kissoon stressed that he is unfit to have been a member of the Guyana Police Force (GPF), and told him: “Your depraved criminal conduct must be condemned in the strongest possible terms by this court.”
According to the Judge, the acts he carried out on the child whilst being a member of the GPF, warrant the maximum sentence contemplated by law. However, he pointed out that the maximum sentence is “wholly insufficient” in this matter.
To do otherwise, the Judge noted that the court would be turning a blind eye to the fact that Padmore attempted to rape the child in her mother’s home.
He said that the incident, which was documented on video, was viewed by Padmore’s spouse, who collapsed in the witness box while viewing it.
As a member of the GPF, the High Court Judge reminded Padmore that he ought to have protected the child, but instead, he violated her, brought shame and disgrace on his uniform and violated the trust and confidence reposed in him by members of society.
“You are no ordinary offender… you were dressed in blue…,” Justice Kissoon told the offender.
Given that the prevalence of sexual offences against children has reached a “dangerous point”, a point where it is crying for deterrence, Justice Kissoon pointed out that the safety and security of citizens remain the paramount overriding consideration at all times for the court.
In recapping the facts of the matter, the Judge said that the girl’s mother had left for work when Padmore used his position of trust to gain entry into the home. At the time, there was another occupant in the house, but Padmore, he noted, sent them away on a “fool’s errand”.
State Counsel Cicelia Corbin and State Counsel Paneeta Persaud were the other prosecutors. Padmore was tried in-camera at the Sexual Offences Court in Demerara.
Padmore, who was first tried for the three offences earlier this year, had to await a retrial after the jury returned hung on all three counts in that trial.