Father of 1 appeals severity of sentence for raping girl, 13

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Damon Assanah, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison for child rape, in June, has moved to the Guyana Court of Appeal to appeal the “severity” of his sentence. The 32-year-old man was imprisoned by Justice Brassington Reynolds after a jury unanimously found him guilty.

Assanah, who fathers a four-year-old daughter, was convicted for raping a 13-year-old girl between November 1 and 30, 2015. The crime took place in Demerara. His lawyer, Tiffany Jeffery-Durant in documents filed at the Court of Appeal, has taken issue with the sentence imposed by the Judge.

Jeffery-Durant contended that the sentence is unreasonable, manifestly excessive, and severe in all the circumstances of the case. Against this background, the lawyer is asking the appellate court to set aside her client’s conviction and sentence. The lawyer has also sought leave to add additional grounds when the Judge’s summation is disclosed.

It was reported that Assanah is known to the teenager, who is now 19. Between January 1 and 31, 2015, he called the girl’s mother’s phone and asked her to meet him downstairs. They met at the back of her yard next to a turtle pen. He then instructed her to undress. He took off his pants, after which he told the child to bend over. When she complied, he raped her.

In October 2015, the teenager’s mother sent her to the shop to purchase an item.

On her way there, she met Assanah, who held on to her hand and placed her in his car. The man then drove off to his home, where he raped the girl again.

He also raped the girl between November 1 and 30, 2015. In early December 2015, the girl was attending school when she started to vomit. Her mother was called in. The girl was taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital, where she was made to undergo a blood test.

The test confirmed that she was seven weeks pregnant; the pregnancy was later aborted.
The girl later confided in her mother about what had transpired between her and Assanah. He was subsequently arrested and prosecuted.

Meanwhile, during a sentencing hearing, Justice Reynolds described the raping of the young girl as a “heinous and barbaric crime”. The Judge told the rapist that “real men” bow their heads in shame at such conduct while questioning why he would succumb to carnal cravings.

From the findings of the probation report, it was noted that he showed no remorse for his actions.
Moreover, Justice Reynolds reminded him that under the laws, a girl under 16 cannot consent to sexual intercourse. “And so adult males, big men, must leave them alone. We must cut our eyes on them…. they were referred to as jail baits, as they are,” the Judge said as he reprimanded him.

Further, the Judge said to Assanah it is ironic that he would father a little girl soon after committing the offence.

The Judge, therefore, told him, “Removing you from society, at least for a while, is the least that a court can do in its attempt at joining forces with the rest of civil society to combat, if not overturn, the scourge of rape, incest, and other deplorable forms of sexual violence being meted out to women and children in our beloved country.”

“What I went through after being raped has really impacted my life. After being raped by someone whom I have known all those years… Sometimes I felt as if I cannot trust anyone close to me anymore. This has had a negative impact on my life. It left me feeling really depressed,” said the rape survivor in a statement to the court.