The Truth Matters

Grenlec is committed to providing our customers throughout Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique with world-class electricity service.

As a publicly traded company with numerous shareholders, we have a duty to set the record straight about issues related to our operations and our integrity.

Below are some of the recent untruthful statements made about our Company in Parliament and in the media concerning Grenlec’s Community Partnership Initiative (GCPI) and the new Government-controlled so-called ‘Social Fund:’

It has been said that Grenlec’s community contributions are “the people’s money.”

This is blatantly incorrect. The funding for Grenlec’s community work comes from the Company’s profits before it pays company tax, and has absolutely no impact on electricity rates. These profits belong to the more than 2000 shareholders of Grenlec.

In its offer to Government to purchase shares in Grenlec, WRB volunteered that Grenlec would invest 5% of its annual pre-tax profits in community projects. The GCPI is overseen by a committee on which Government has appointed a representative. The intent of the GCPI is that Grenlec shareholders give back to the community, in the same way that many other companies in Grenada do.

GCPI contributions are currently given directly to community organisations in a non-political manner. This could change under the ‘Social Fund’, as Government will now control and disburse the money as it sees fit.
Grenlec has been asked to “open its books” to the public.

Grenlec’s accounts are already open. Grenlec is a publicly-traded company, listed on the Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange (ECSE).

The Company produces accurate and transparent financial statements in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

These financial statements are independently audited by the Grenadian office of a reputable international accounting firm, and then distributed to shareholders, including Government, in the Company’s publicly-available annual report. In addition, Government has always appointed a Director to Grenlec’s Board of Directors.

To suggest that the Company’s accounts are being improperly reported calls into question the integrity of not only the Company, but also these institutions. Full copies of the Company’s annual reports for the past 10 years can be found on Grenlec’s website.

It has been said that “We won’t rely on Grenlec to be transparent” as it relates to community giving.

Completely unfounded. For the past 23 years, the GCPI has been managed in a manner above reproach. It operates in a transparent, non-political way. It has always been administered by a diverse committee of Grenlec, Government and Community representatives, who decide where funds are to be disbursed throughout Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique and whose activities are reported on in the Company’s annual report.

Now, the Government-controlled ‘Social Fund’ will give the Minister for Public Utilities and a Minister-appointed committee the power to manage the money.

We strongly oppose the Government’s takeover of the GCPI. The new 5% Government-controlled ‘Social Fund’ will effectively replace Grenlec’s existing community program, which allows communities to benefit through a well organised, non-political programme in which Government continues to have a strong voice.

We also hope that Government will refrain from attacking Grenlec’s corporate integrity, and by association the integrity of other well-respected local and regional institutions, with inaccurate statements. We are concerned about the consequences that this campaign of misinformation will have on our business and the nation.

Grenlec will continue to address such gross inaccuracies because the truth does matter.

Comply or else: The EU blacklist

The Council of the European Union (CEU) published its much anticipated ‘List of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes’ on December 5.

This particular EU blacklist refers more particularly to what they have described as “Base Erosion and Profit Shifting” (BEPS). It is aimed particularly at companies that enjoy low or no tax status because they are offshore entities, or they operate in a special free trade zone where taxes are not paid, or they are foreign-owned and are given tax concessions not provided to similar domestic operations.

Many of the countries on the list, which includes Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, either cried-out in astonishment or disbelief. But not one of them asked what gives the Council of the EU the right to put any country on a black list and to impose sanctions on them for non-compliance with a European Union created criteria on taxation.

Among the countries that immediately reacted was Panama whose President, Juan Carlos Varela, said “This is a regrettable decision. We feel this is an unfair measure.” He has recalled his Ambassador to the EU for consultations.

The Government of the United Arab Emirates was more submissive, saying: “We will continue to work with our international partners on this issue, and are confident that we will be recognised as an internationally compliant partner at the EU’s next review”.

In the Caribbean, Barbados’ Minister of International Business, Donville Inniss also said that his country’s listing is “extremely unfortunate and unfair”. He went on to make the point that “when these kind of lists and reports are picked up by other groupings and organisational bodies, including financial institutions”, they could have deleterious effects on investment.

But no one questioned the authority of 28 European countries alone to decide tax standards for the rest of the world, although Innis is reported to have said that he would be calling on the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to lead regional dialogue on such matters, as the region continued to come under “scrutiny and attacks” from multinational organisations.

Sven Giegold, the financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament described the EU list as “a whitewashed blacklist of tax havens”. Correctly, he said, “Not one of the most important tax havens has been put on the list”. And added, “The list is politically biased as relevant financial centres like the United States of America are missing”.

Giegold is correct that “relevant financial centres like the United States” does not appear on it. But, EU countries can best flex their considerable collective muscle on small countries; they have skilfully avoided taking on the giants to whom their actions would be a flea on an elephant’s back.

Nonetheless, EU countries are acting in their own interest. They can’t be blamed for that. Blame has always rested squarely with the jurisdictions that have allowed the EU to dictate terms for taxation standards.

Repeated calls to take this matter to where it rightly belongs – the United Nations General Assembly where all countries are represented have fallen on deaf ears. Therefore, in its 38-page blacklisting document, the EU could say it “welcomes the fact that most of these jurisdictions have chosen to participate in this process and dialogue”.

Most of the jurisdictions did just that, depriving themselves of any leg to stand on when they protest in the wake of being named on the blacklist.

Indeed, the Council of the EU is so emboldened by the acquiescence of “most of the jurisdictions” that it has included “tax avoidance” among the matters that they regard as “of crucial importance” to the fight against “the erosion of (EU) member states’ tax base”.

Tax avoidance is not a crime and is, and always has been, legitimate in tax planning. But, the EU Council now include it in their criteria for naming countries that it does not regard as cooperative.

The EU document contains language and instructions to its member states that demonstrates its readiness to exercise its power. For instance, it says that EU countries should take into account their “foreign policy, economic relations and development cooperation” when dealing with blacklisted countries. That could range from cutting off loans and aid to applying sanctions such as withdrawing banking facilities.

Further, the euphemistically-described “defensive measures” that the Council proposes to the EU member states are not limited to the tax area; it could include EU legislative acts in non-tax areas in the future. These non-tax areas have not been defined or limited.

In the tax area, the ‘defensive measures’ include: reversal of the burden of proof, withholding tax measures and special documentation requirements.

Other Caribbean countries are not spared attention. Because of this year’s devastating hurricanes a few have been given breathing space. So, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands Dominica, St Kitts-Nevis and Turks and Caicos Islands have been put on notice that concerns about them will have to be resolved by the end of next year.

Scrutinising them begins in February. They will all be lining-up to comply, notwithstanding Donville Innis’ view that CARICOM should establish a high-level regional team of experts to engage with external parties on behalf of the region.

That was tried in 2000, when the OECD – firmly pushed by the EU – created its blacklist of countries that they claimed were engaging in tax competition that harmed them. But, regional solidarity fractured as, one after the other and under enormous external pressure, each country complied.

Their offshore businesses and free trade zones withered and they lost jobs and revenue, but they thought they had no choice then. It is unlikely to be any different now.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the US and the OAS. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and Massey College in the University of Toronto. The views expressed are his own.)

Truth and Righteousness

“Truth is fallen in the streets and (equity) righteousness cannot enter.”

We lie in an era when truth and righteousness are under attack on all sides from San Diego to Soho to Tokyo.

These two are the fundamental pillars of a healthy society. The psalmist asks, “When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The man or woman of God can do four things when the foundational elements come under attack: demonstrate them, declare them, defend them, or die for them. Who would volunteer to stand in the gap in support of truth and righteousness?

What has always been known to be true is being neglected and rejected by those who want nothing to do with metanarratives. Instead they are choosing to craft their own concept of truth and have even transitioned to the stage of post-truth. They choose to compose their own narratives in opposition to the over-arching virtues which once defined cultural values.

In France, the government is passing legislation to delegitimise the concept of logic which is essential to truth.

We cannot reason without truth for error is not a basis for arriving at conclusions. In Chinese philosophy truth and reality are vitally connected and are conceptualised as reality/truth.

Truth and righteousness are twinned. Without truth there is no righteousness and without righteousness truth cannot be expressed but is repressed. Romans 1:18 declares that men in their pursuit of evil are “holding the truth in unrighteousness.” Unrighteousness smothers truth and renders it no-functional or inoperable.

People know that ISUZU JO is lying in his ad and he knows it too. But men nowadays believe that they are telling the truth when in fact they are lying. Fake news is a classic case in point. Evil has become good and good has become evil. Truth is being twisted or rejected as men seek to create a world of untruth for their own distorted purposes.

Examples abound but here are some critical ones: Evolution is being held up as truth when it is impossible in the first place; abortion is justified on the notion that the unborn are not humans – try applying that logic to the fetus of a dog; and finally, the duality of human sexuality is rejected in favour of unisex or multi-genderism.

Truth sounds and smells too much like God for human comfort and so the baby is thrown out with the bathwater. As Richard Leuwenthal puts it, “We do not want a divine foot in the door.” Truth is divine for God is truth. Keep truth out and God will be kept out. Without truth there is no fear of righteousness.

In Aldus Huxley’s terms the acceptance of God’s existence will preempt the enjoyment of sexual promiscuity. Without truth or God the human spirit celebrates its freedom to sample all the dainties of unrighteousness. As one man said to me years ago, “There is no vice that I have not tried.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum while God is the source of truth the devil is the father of lies and so truth does not originate with him. He is also described as a murderer from the beginning. Lying and murder go together for lying denies truth and murder violates righteousness.

By rejecting the truth modern culture is submitting to the devil’s agenda. No wonder we are living in a culture of death. Islamist terrorists boldly declare that they love death under the mistaken notion that a Paradise of sensual delights awaits them beyond the grave.

The only reason why we have not destroyed ourselves as a global culture is because there is still a residue of truth and righteousness left in the world. It may resemble the smile of the Cheshire cat but at least it helps to temper the passions of men and arouse in them a modicum of guilt and shame.

German psychologist, Carl Jung, advised that we should live as though there is a God because he saw the logical consequences of living otherwise.

The current existence of the concept of truth is due to the remnant of the distorted image of God in man, the presence of the church in the world, and the existence of the Holy Scriptures. We still have some light in spite of the stygian darkness which is all around us.

When truth disappears, lawlessness will take over and the Man of sin will dominate. Then men will fully believe the ultimate lie that “Lucifer is god.” The knowledge of evil will then cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

However, truth will only be on the scaffold for a while. In the words of Canadian James Russel Lowell: Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne;

But that scaffold sways the future and beyond the dim unknown

Standest God within the shadows, keeping watch above his own.

Veritas will eventually prevail over vice when he who is the Truth comes to reign in righteousness and the earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

MARANATHA, THE LORD RETURNETH, EVEN SO COME LORD JESUS.

Alfred Horsford

Pure Grenada is Caribbean destination of the year

Pure Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean is ending the year in high spirits as its recognition in the international community continues to grow.

The Grenada Tourism Authority team enjoying their Annual Staff Appreciation Luncheon at Sandals La Source

The tri-island destination which includes Carriacou and Petite Martinique is celebrating after capturing two prestigious titles in the Caribbean Journal’s Travel Awards 2017.

Grenada was named ‘Destination of the Year 2017’ while Chief Executive Officer of the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) Patricia Maher was named Caribbean Tourism Director of the Year 2017.

Caribbean Journal says Grenada was chosen thanks to one of the fastest growth rates in the Caribbean, a surge in hotel development (with properties like the Kimpton Kawana Bay and Silver Sands in the pipeline) and a new branding push to bring travellers to a place that has long been one of the Caribbean’s most underrated destinations.

Chief Executive Officer of the Grenada Tourism Authority Patricia Maher was delighted by the news saying, “I wish to thank the GTA team who have been working hard to ensure that the world discovers and enjoys our islands”.

“We appreciate all our public and private stakeholders who work along with us to create memorable experiences and the Grenadian people for their warm hospitality”, she added.

Grenada was also recently featured in several major publications.

Travel and Leisure Magazine recognised the destination as number three out of the 50 best places to travel in 2018.

People Magazine published the article as well with this outlet having 43,500,570 unique monthly visitors.

Continuing the global recognition of Pure Grenada was mic.com. The outlet featured Grenada as one of 26 best places to travel in 2018 under the section that details places “where a short trip leads to big rewards”.

Mic.com has 10,158,017 unique monthly visitors.

The GTA is looking forward to 2018 with anticipation and a diverse marketing plan to keep Grenada in the international spotlight.

Pakistani Lands Grenada Diplomatic Passport

THE NEW TODAY has discovered that a relatively unknown 40-year old Pakistani national is the holder of a Grenada diplomatic passport issued by the Keith Mitchell-led administration in St. George’s.

The Pakistani has been identified as Fahad Sultan Ahmed and obtained the diplomatic passport in 2015 – two years after the New National Party (NNP) was returned to power in a clean sweep of all 15 seats in the 2013 poll.

According to well-placed sources, Ahmed is not known to be doing any diplomatic work for Grenada but was still able to land the prized travelling document.

This newspaper is looking into reports that the diplomatic passport was obtained in questionable circumstances by Ahmed.

Press Secretary in the office of the Prime Minister, Kisha Grant-Alexander did not respond to questions sent to her email address by THE NEW TODAY on the issue.

The following was sent by the newspaper to Grant-Alexander: “It has been brought to our attention that Fahad Sultan Ahmed, a national of Pakistan is the holder of a Grenada diplomatic passport that was issued to him in 2015. Can you confirm whether this is true or false?

“If true, can you say what is the job description of this Grenadian diplomat and where is he accredited to?

“What has this Grenadian diplomat done for the country since being accorded diplomatic status?”

Miami-based blogger Kenneth Rijock carried a report about three months ago about a businessman from Ukraine who paid US$1 million for a Grenada diplomatic passport that he never received.

The Mitchell government has consistently denied that Grenada has a diplomatic passport selling scheme.
Information reaching THE NEW TODAY is that Fahad had been residing in London since October 2009 on an Immigrant Investor visa (Tier 1).

There are unconfirmed reports that an outfit known as Mishcon De Reya helped to facilitate the British visa and that Barclays bank currently holds his assets for fulfilment of the requirements for the Investor Visa.

Fahad is said to come from a very wealthy family with good connections in Pakistan.

A source told THE NEW TODAY: “His father set up a ship chartering business in 1977 – Ocean Services Pvt. Ltd. The current turnover of same is USD 30MM with an annual net profit of close to USD 3-3.5MM.

“The family has benefited from the property boom in Karachi over mid 2000s and Fahad is looking at diversifying their assets outside Pakistan.

“Fahad is the CEO, FS Group and the majority shareholder (70%) in the same. Fahad’s sister owns the rest of the business. He completed his Business and Accountancy degree in London.

“He moved back to Pakistan to manage family assets and to establish a distribution company in addition to the family’s existing business.

Pakistan has frequently been accused by its neighbours India and Afghanistan, and western nations like the United States and the United Kingdom of involvement in terrorist activities.

Its tribal region along the border of Afghanistan has been described by western media and the United States Defense Department as a “haven for terrorists”.

According to an analysis published by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution in 2008, Pakistan was, “with the possible exception of Iran, perhaps the world’s most active sponsor of terrorist groups… aiding groups that pose a direct threat to the United States.”

The issue of non-nationals obtaining Grenada diplomatic passports was addressed by Barbadian jurist Sir. Richard Cheltenham who was invited by then Governor-General Sir Daniel Williams to conduct a one-man Commission of Inquiry into the Switzerland Briefcase scandal involving Prime Minister Mitchell back in June 2000.

Sir Richard recommended that non-nationals should only be given official passports and not diplomatic passports.

Non-custodial sentences for Stephen and Phillip

A small businessman, Gary Stephen was ordered to give 250 hours of community service and in default spend 2 years at the Richmond Hill prison.

32 year-old businessman Gary Stephen of Concord who pleaded guilty to possession of a forged document

The Concord, St. John resident was arrested back in November 2015 and slapped with three indictable charges in connection with a major VISA scam that has been taking place in the country for over 20 years.

The sentence was handed down on him Monday by Trinidadian-born Judge, Justice Shiraf Aziz at the No. 5 High Court in St. George’s.

Stephen, a first-time offender, who was 31 years old when he committed the offence, was initially charged with forgery, possession of a forged document and conspiracy to utter a forged document.

However, the accused who was represented by Attorney-at Law, George Prime pleaded guilty to being in possession of a forged document and the prosecution, which was led by Senior Crown Counsel, Crisan Greenidge, offered no further evidence on the other two charges.

Stephen, who is currently employed with “Photo Max” photo studio, was arrested one week after two other suspects – Lester Smith of the Grenada Football Association (GFA) and basketball coach, Nigel “German” Mc Kie – appeared in court on charges related to the VISA scam.

The State alleged that Stephen forged a document purporting that a certain individual was employed with an undisclosed government ministry in an effort to assist the individual in obtaining a visa to enter the United States.

Kadeem Phillip was handed a suspended sentence for maiming

The allegation against Stephen dated back to February 2013, in which he is believed to have facilitated a female individual with a forged job letter that was presented to the US Embassy in Barbados.

Considering among other things that the accused was a first-time offender, Justice Aziz gave him a serious warning that the court would not tolerate a repeat of this offence on his part.

In another court-related matter, Justice Aziz handed down a suspended 10-month sentence on 23-year old Kadeem Phillip in connection with a maiming incident that occurred back in December 2015, in which one man lost one of his wrists.

The young Labourer from Coast Guard, St. Mark, allegedly used a cutlass to cut off the victim’s wrist, during a dispute over a gambling game that went wrong somewhere in the River Sallee area in the northern parish of St. Patrick.

Phillip has a total of 5 prior convictions recorded against him, including assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, obscene language and causing harm, which were all committed between 2015 and 2017.

The accused was represented by Attorney Prime.

In addition to the suspended sentence, Phillip was ordered to carry out 250 hours of community service, by spending 150 hours teaching at the Richmond Hill Prison and 100 hours teaching at a special needs school.

Justice Aziz, who would be receiving periodic updates on his progress, warned him that if he breaches the conditions at least 3 times, he could be sent to prison to serve a 10-month jail sentence.

Speaking with THE NEW TODAY, Attorney Prime expressed satisfaction that his clients were given the full extent of the law by the sitting judge and basically given an opportunity to continue living their lives freely.

“I am pleased with the sentences and I hope they (Stephen and Phillip) behave themselves,” he remarked.

G’da resorts score high marks

Three Grenadian resorts are among the “Top 30” coolest Caribbean hotels, according to the prestigious newspaper, The TIMES of London.

La Luna Restaurant – gained recognition as a top-flight hotel

La Luna, La Sagesse and Calabash Hotels have been rated among “the best places to catch some winter sun’’, in the travel feature in the 9th December edition.

The Board of Directors of the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA), in responding to the news, expressed delight with what it describes as the “continued successes and achievements’’ of its members.

The Times article groups their chosen hotels by islands number-wise and are not ranked, but readers are advised where to visit in the Caribbean and Grenada is very well represented.

The Times reports: “At La Luna, the 16-villa resort, has “One of Grenada’s nicest restaurants. The Italian owner imports olives, wines and cheese from his homeland and blends it well with Grenada’s strong food culture’’.

La Sagesse, which has 12 rooms “dotted about the estate” with a restaurant, according to the article that “serves grilled lobster and vegetables provided by its organic farm”.

Calabash, comprises 30 cottages that “form a crescent around a delightful beach, while five villas provide extra privacy and space’’.

There are two restaurants, one overseen by Gary Rhodes, a spa and superb facilities, including swimming pools and tennis courts.

Earlier this year, Calabash won the approval of Relaix & Chateau brand and was named the number one Boutique Hotel in the Caribbean, and the 13th in the world by Trip Advisor.

Leo Garbutt, Vice President of GHTA said the inclusion of three local hotels on The Times’ list is indicative of the emphasis Grenadian hoteliers place on providing great accommodation and excellent service.

“I am thrilled that Grenada can hold its place and secure 10% of the best 30 resorts in the Caribbean,’’ Garbutt said.

“We indeed have a beautiful destination and it’s wonderful that this has been recognised by so many including The Times of the UK”, he added.

Redhead becomes first local to hold post of CEO of Digicel

Grenadian Shrivon Redhead is the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the local operations of telecommunications provider, Digicel.

Shrivon Redhead

Redhead’s appointment took effect on December 1.

She is the first national to hold the CEO Position since Digicel commenced operations in Grenada fourteen years ago.

Redhead brings with her a wealth of experience, having first joined Digicel in 2003 as a customer service representative and quickly worked her way up to customer Service Manager, before being promoted to Commercial Director in 2016.

In commenting on her appointment, Redhead said: “I am truly honoured and humbled by this new appointment, this is not only a win for myself but also a win for Grenada. I embark on this journey with a positive spirit and the emphatic support of my team and colleagues as we strive to continue raising the bar of excellence as a complete telecommunications and business solutions provider.”

In congratulating Redhead, outgoing Digicel Grenada CEO, Jack Bourke, said: “I am so proud to see a Grenadian take the helm and lead the business into its next stage of development.

He went on: Mentoring Shrivon was a pleasure and I wish her all the success with the aspirations she has for the market. It’s an exciting time for Grenada.”

Curtis Bailey Shines at Sandals Ultimate Awards

Upon his return to Grenada from Jamaica for the company-wide Ultimate Team Member Award, Curtis Bailey said ‘Jamaica, Wow!’

Curtis Bailey and Adam Stewart (CEO Sandals Resorts International)

Last year, after winning Diamond (Best) Team Member of the Month, he was awarded as the overall best Team Member of the Year for Sandals LaSource and so was granted the opportunity to represent the resort at the Ultimate Award event in Jamaica.

This young, ambitious Scuba Instructor was treated to a week of VIP luxury along with other Team Members from across the region.

In the days leading up to the grand award ceremony and dinner, the nominees were treated to a week of activities including tours to the group’s various head offices in Kingston and Montego Bay, a day of zip lining and river tubing at Good Hope Estate courtesy of Chukka Caribbean Adventures and outreach at the Stewart Town Basic School in partnership with the Sandals Foundation.

Although on the night of the Ultimate Award ceremony, Jamer ‘Captain Neil’ Georges, a playmaker in Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort’s Entertainment Department emerged as the Ultimate Winner, all nominees had an enriching experience.

Deputy Chairman and CEO Adam Stewart, praised the nominees for their incalculable value to the company.
He thanked all team members for allowing the company to confidently and continuously pursue new ventures, crediting them for the continued success of the company and all its endeavours.

‘There’s a reason why everything we touch turns to gold and you, along with all the other thousands of team members across the region are that reason. It turns to gold because of hard work, dedication and passion’, he told the nominees.

‘This is the night we love’, he continued, ‘The night where we get to celebrate and recognise our shining stars. We can’t thank you enough for all that you do and I just want to tell you that we see your efforts, we appreciate them and we are happy to reward excellence.’

To identify the ultimate winner, nominees were assessed by various criteria, including team spirit, training hours, attendance record, ambassadorial qualities, and community and environmental stewardship.
After weeks of examining the nominees’ profiles, the selection panel was confident to announce Georges as the Ultimate Team Member – the best of the company’s 14,000-strong team.

Bailey added, ‘Although I was not the Ultimate Winner, it was indeed an Ultimate experience that I will never forget. From the VIP travel arrangements, being VIP guests on resort with all our needs taken care of, the specially organised events and most of all, the opportunity to bond with my fellow team members from across the Caribbean.

“Truly an Ultimate lifetime experience that I wish I could do again tomorrow. I left feeling empowered and ready to take on the world. It really made me realise that I am part of one of the best brands in the world”, he added.

The Ultimate Award week is an annual event honouring top performers from the Sandals group across the region and forms one of the company’s many team member appreciation activities.

(The above was submitted by Sandals)

Former National Cricketer Gets 11 Years for Rape

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.

Handell Stafford said he doesn’t know what came over him and caused him to commit the crime

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”.