A 39-year-old Laura Land, St. David man, was on Monday sentenced to 11 years and 3 months at the Richmond Hill prison for having sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old secondary school student.
The sentence was handed down on Raul Roberts, a Bus Driver by profession, by Justice Paula Gilford, who presides over the No. 2 High Court, which was temporarily relocated to the Grenada Trade Centre building for a 2-week period.
The accused was charged for the crime, which he admitted to perpetuating against the student, who at one point in time, he called his step daughter.
The incident occurred sometime in February 2016 on the front passenger seat of a tinted blue passenger bus somewhere in the vicinity of the Grand Anse beach to the back of a popular hotel.
The court was told that after taking the victim and her younger sister (his daughter with the victim’s mother) out shopping, the bus driver then committed the crime against the teenager.
Crown Counsel in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Brendon La Touche said that Roberts gave his daughter (the younger sister of the victim) his cell phone and instructed her to sit at the back of the bus and play games on his phone, while he proceeded to have unprotected sex with the victim.
When he finished, the bus driver told the school girl to clean herself and not tell anyone what had happened.
The court heard evidence that at the time of the incident, Roberts was separated from the victim’s mother, whom he was involved with in a sexual relationship since the little girl was 3 years old.
The bus driver was arrested by police approximately 6 months after the incident on August 19, after pregnancy and Ultra Sound tests revealed that the 15-year-old was impregnated.
Approximately 3 months after his arrest, the school child bore a baby girl and her younger sister is now faced with a predicament where she is both the sister and the aunt of her older sister’s 1-year and 7-month-old daughter.
Roberts pleaded guilty to the crime of having Sexual Intercourse with a minor on April 13 and faced a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment.
Attorney-at-Law Francis Paul provided legal counsel for Roberts who at first denied sexual interference with the young girl.
He later admitted to putting down the act in the exact manner as related by the victim to the police.
According to Attorney Paul, his client was reluctant to admit to the crime, out of concern for his family and 2 children, who lived with him at that point in time.
Acknowledging the seriousness of the offence and pointing to the previous good character of Roberts, Attorney Paul sought to bring into focus his client’s expression of remorse and urged the court to administer “retribution and rehabilitation” as part of the sentence that will be imposed.
He pointed out that his client, who is now a father of 3, has worked with the Ministry of Health for approximately 11 years and was a productive member of society prior to the commission of the criminal act.
Noting the peculiar circumstances of the case, the criminal defense attorney added that some form of counseling should be done to the accused.
In an effort to get the court to consider his client’s personal circumstances, Attorney Paul pointed out that “the longer he is away from his family is the longer they would be affected.”
He asked the court to temper justice with mercy by giving Roberts a sentence, that would make him pay for what he did but also allow him to return into society and take care of his family.
“He is indeed remorseful,” the attorney told the court before reading aloud an apology letter penned by the convicted man apologising for the shameful act against the schoolgirl.
In handing down sentence, Justice Gilford, referenced the Victim Impact Statement in which the 15-year-old girl stated that “society thinks it’s my fault because I went behind my mother’s man.
“And society need to stop,” the Guyanese-born judge declared.
The female high court judge who did not accept remorse as a mitigating factor also pointed to the Social Inquiry Report, in which family members of the convicted man doubted that he could have committed such an act.
“You were so close to her. She loved and respected you and look what you did…you did what you should have protected her from…early sexual contact and early pregnancy…”, Justice Gilford told the convict.
“You have defiled the victim…she was robbed of an opportunity of enjoying her childhood and was prematurely turned from a child into a mother,” she said.
The female high court judge also pointed to the increase in sexual crimes on the island, noting that “victims (of sex crimes), are now realising that they have a voice and they are choosing to speak up rather than being silent.”
“Rarely have we seen the victim being an adult…the majority of the time, it’s (against) young females,” she noted, adding that, “Victims of these crimes must know that they must not hide in shame.”
As part of his sentence Raul Robert was also ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation and in default spend an additional 2 years in prison.