Former national cricketer Handell Stafford, has been sentenced to 11 years behind prison bars for rape by a judge sitting at High Court No. 2 in St. George’s.
Guyana-born Justice Paula Gilford handed down the sentence last week Friday to bring an end to the matter which has been going on for the past 8 years.
The St. David’s resident was also sentenced to one year in prison for stealing from a home – both sentences will run concurrently.
Justice Gilford gave the ruling after more than two hours of mitigation by Attorney-at-law Anselm Clouden, who called three character witnesses and often made reference to Stafford’s allegedly unsound mind while committing the offence.
The experienced defense lawyer tried to convince the court, that his client was a reformed man since he was released on bail in 2010.
According to Clouden, Stafford had become a regular church goer, got married and started a family.
An apologetic Stafford, who had earlier this year pleaded guilty to the rape charge, told THE NEW TODAY outside the courtroom last week, that he had confessed to the crime after praying “long and hard.”
Moments before he was hauled off to jail, Stafford said: “I spoke to the complainant’s father and I told him I am sorry”.
He also said: “The reason why I pleaded is because I am sorry and I prayed about it long and hard and I (have) come to terms that I am putting everything in God’s hands, because without God you are nothing… God is Almighty and higher than anything.
“I have been searching myself because I can’t find it in my heart to say how these things happen but by praying and getting to know God, I get to understand why it happened. So, at the end of the day…whatever it (the sentence) be, I make up my mind to face it and to come out (of jail) a better person and to be able to talk to others about the same situation.
In July 2009, the former national cricketer was charged with rape, burglary and robbery with violence, and kept in police custody until his release on bail in 2010.
As he waited rather impatiently to know his fate from Justice Gilford, Stafford appeared to be shaken and was seen clinching his fists as he hung his head and constantly shook his feet and at times, even broke into tears.
In commenting on the sentence handed down Attorney Clouden told reporters, there would be no appeal but that while in prison his client needs treatment and counseling.
“This is a case where I think he received the requisite discounts in keeping with the Good Year Principles…he was there, the problem is that he said something came over him and he didn’t know what was happening… we tried as best we can to ask the court to be merciful on him…he needs treatment, counseling and the court has ordered that”, he said.
With one prison year equivalent to 9 months, Attorney Clouden said he expects to see Stafford, the father of a 10-month old son, out of jail in about “eight years”.