A jury in the Georgetown Sexual Offences Court cleared a Beterverwagting, East Coast Demerara (ECD) of a child rape charge when it returned a majority verdict of not guilty.
Shaquille Fernandes called “Rum Mouth”, 24, stood calmly in the courtroom, as the jury foreperson said “not guilty” to a count of rape of a child under the age of 16 in relation to a 15-year-old girl. It was alleged that he committed the crime on September 23, 2019, in Demerara.
The 12 jurors deliberated for over two hours on Wednesday after High Court Judge Priya-Sewnarine-Beharry summarised the evidence in the trial to them.
Fernandes was represented by Attorney-at-Law Teriq Mohammed, while Attorneys-at-Law Simran Gajraj, Latifah Elliot, and Rbina Christmas prosecuted the matter.
It had been the prosecution’s case that on the night in question, the teen girl was playing with her cousins when Fernandes called her from her grandparents’ house and into an alleyway.
It was there, the prosecutors submitted, that he raised the girl’s skirt, took off her underwear, and raped her (penetrated her vagina with his penis).
However, when called upon to lead a defence, Fernandes denied the allegation.
According to him, on the day in question, he was passing through the alleyway when he saw another guy from the village engaging in a sexual activity with the teenage girl.
Upon seeing him, he claimed that the girl ran to her grandparents’ house and told her grandmother that he raped her. A report to this effect was made to the Police and Fernandes was arrested and charged. Pending his trial, he had been out on cash bail.