23-year old Nigerian medical student, Joshua Okoronkwo walked out of a St. George’s high court lat week Friday a free man following sexually-related charges slapped on him by the police.
Okoronkwo was freed from two (2) indictable sex charges last week Friday in a surprising verdict returned by a 9-member jury at the St. George’s No. 1 High Court on St. John’s Street.
The Nigerian was facing charges of defilement of a young female between the ages of 13 and 16 and permitting the defilement of a 15-year-old secondary school student, in July last year, weeks prior to completing his studies at the St. George’s University (SGU).
Okoronkwo was held on remand at the Richmond Hill Prison since his arrest, despite three attempts to secure bail leading up to his trial, which lasted approximately 1-week before High Court Judge, Justice Paula Gilford.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), represented by Crown Counsel, Brandon La Touche prosecuted the matter on behalf of the State.
In an interview with reporters after the conclusion of the in-camera proceedings, defence attorney, Derick Sylvester said that he was not at liberty to disclose the facts surrounding the trial due to its sensitive nature.
“I cannot discuss the case because of the nature…but what I can indicate to you is that it was a minor that was involved and the jury delivered a not guilty verdict”, he remarked.
Attorney Sylvester said that the jury, after listening to the evidence in support of the Prosecution’s case by six (6) witnesses, including the 15-year-old complainant and her mother, one (1) doctor, three (3) police officers, as well as an unsworn statement from the accused, decided to return a verdict of ‘not guilty.’
The lawyer also took strong objection to what he described as discriminatory provision of the law, where the reasonable belief that the person is above age is not considered as a defense.
In Grenada the age of consent is 16 years.
Attorney Sylvester said: “This is a provision that is unfair because if you are 19 years or older, you cannot use the reasonable belief provision that you believe that the person is above the age of consent, which to my mind is unfair”.
The attorney did not allow his client to be interviewed or have his picture taken by local reporters, a request supported by his family, who exited the court unnoticed.
However, he indicated that the Nigerian national, who this newspaper understands was transferred from a tertiary institution in his homeland to the True Blue-base St. George’s University, is expected to complete medical school on the island.