T&T man gets 20 years jail for sex acts on 15-yr-old daughter

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(Trinidad Guardian) A Mayaro father regarded as a community stalwart will spend the next 20 years in jail for committing five sex acts on of of his four daughters, including trying to have sex with her at their home.

Given the growing prevalence of these serious crimes over the last decade, Justice David Harris yesterday said the sentence had to reflect the court’s abhorrence and serve as a deterrent to people thinking about committing similar acts.

Noting that the most serious of five offences against the father was attempted incest, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, Harris said the man had betrayed the trust between father and daughter.

The 50-year-old labourer had pleaded not guilty to two counts of indecent assault, two counts of grievous sexual assault and attempted incest.

However, a San Fernando jury found him guilty of all the charges on April 13 and he was taken into custody to await sentencing.

According to the evidence led by state attorney Sarah de Silva and Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal, the father, a single parent, began sexually interfering with his daughter on March 31, 2008, when she was 15 and it continued until October 2009. Most of the acts took place on the child’s bed when her sisters were not around. The children’s mother did not live with them. During the trial, however, the girl, now 24-years-old, refused to give evidence, saying that she trying to rekindle her relationship with her father for the sake of her daughter.

However, in passing sentence in the Third Assizes yesterday, the judge said the victim’s compassion for her bread-winning father, the passage of a mere ten years or the father’s admirable traits cannot change the facts and gravity of the offences.

He noted that there were several aggravating factors in relation to the offences, including the prevalence and seriousness, that he breached her trust, the offences took place in the home and there was a level of premeditation and planning. The only mitigating factor, the judge said, was the absence of violence.

Recounting the mitigation of defence attorney Ramesh Deena, Harris said three testimonials from upstanding members of the community were presented to the court, suggesting he was a community stalwart. The father was working, took care of his children financially and had no previous convictions or pending matters. But the judge said the father showed no remorse.

Deena said the father was also filled with abhorrence by the nature of the allegations and could not accept he did those things.

After deducting two years each from the sentences, the judge ordered he serve 16 years each on the grievous sexual assault charges, five years each of the indecent assault charges and 20 years on the attempted incest charge. The judge further ordered that six days be deducted from each of the sentences for the time he spent in custody awaiting trial. The sentences were ordered to run concurrently. Several of the man’s relatives left the court in tears.

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