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Judicial CP - May 2007
Bahama Journal, Nassau, 31 May 2007
Child Rapist Sentenced To Flogging, Prison Term
By Bianca Symonette
Senior Justice Anita Allen on Wednesday sentenced a convicted sexual offender to seven years in Her Majesty's Prison and ordered that he be flogged with the cat-o-nine tails for having unlawful sexual intercourse with a six-year-old girl.
The prosecution had pushed for Andrew Bridgewater to receive 14 years to life in prison. They also had pushed for flogging.
Bridgewater pleaded guilty on December 13, 2006 to having unlawful sexual intercourse with the girl after she was found coming from bushes behind the Blue Hill Road power plant.
She was clothed only in a blood stained T-shirt, according to police.
Justice Allen explained in her ruling that section 10 of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act stipulates a maximum penalty of seven years for a first offence and 14 years for a second offence with life imprisonment being the maximum penalty for a third or subsequent offence.
The prosecution's arguments for flogging seemed not to fall on deaf ears as Justice Allen agreed that due to the violent nature and cruelty of the offence, a greater punishment in addition to the prison term should be set.
In that regard, Justice Allen said that 10 strokes of the cat would be administered in two installments of five strokes at an interval of 14 days.
The first installment would not be administered until 28 days expire, which is the period allotted for an appeal to be filed.
Wayne Watson, Bridgewater's attorney, said while he was happy with the sentence, he was against corporal punishment because he considers it to be cruel and unusual punishment.
As for an appeal, he said he would have to discuss that with his client, but Mr. Watson said he believed an appeal could be detrimental to Bridgewater because he could get a longer prison term.
During the sentencing hearing, evidence was produced indicating that the six-year-old knew Bridgewater, which enabled him to convince the little girl to leave the home of her caretaker to go with him to a shop.
However, he took her to a mall and then to a home to watch television, according to the evidence.
After that he reportedly took the child to an abandoned car in bushes off Blue Hill Road and had vaginal and anal sex with her. During the sexual assault, Bridgewater also punched the child in the face, according to the evidence.
The child's doctor's report revealed that she suffered from a laceration to the labia, bleeding in the vaginal wall, swelling to the forehead, a haematoma to her cheek and vaginal laceration with second and third degree tears from her vagina to her rectum.
The girl had to be hospitalized for two to three weeks as a result of the sexual assault, according to authorities.
In Bridgewater's psychological assessment, Dr. Nelson Clarke noted that the convict was pleasant and readily answered questions. He also told the court that despite what Bridgewater had told the police he was not HIV positive.
He also told the court that the convict was of below average intelligence, but that status would not render him incapable of differentiating between right or wrong.
Bridgewater reportedly admitted to Dr. Clarke during the evaluation that on the date of the crime he drank alcohol and had taken ecstasy.
Bridgewater's probation report revealed that he was an abandoned child who had alcoholic parents who relinquished all parental responsibilities for their son.
The report also showed that the convict expressed remorse but indicated to the probation officer that he thought about his crime before executing it.
In determining Bridgewater's sentence, Justice Allen said she took into account that the convict did not waste the court's time because he pleaded guilty. She also took into account he spared his young victim from having to rehash what was done to her in giving her evidence.
However, the justice said she had to also take into account that the convict abused the trust placed in him and perpetrated a heinous crime.
The justice also said she took into account the fact that the convict has previous convictions for shop breaking, stealing, robbery and possession of dangerous drugs.
"Taking into consideration all of the aggravating and mitigating factors and the convict's personal history, I am of the view that regrettably, the maximum sentence of imprisonment that I can impose under section 10 (1) is seven years," Justice Allen said.
The seven-year sentence commences from the date of conviction in December 2006.
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