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Judicial CP - May 2004
Trinidad Express, Port of Spain, 7 May 2004
Appeal Court reaffirms jail, strokes for rapist
By Theron Boodan
Nicholas Leotaud will receive five strokes with the birch and spend the next ten years in jail with hard labour because he kidnapped and raped a woman. The Court of Appeal yesterday upheld the sentence imposed on Leotaud by Justice Herbert Volney in the Port-of-Spain Assizes last year. Leotaud was also sentenced to another ten years for kidnapping, but that will run concurrently with the rape sentence. Leotaud, of Morvant, Laventille, appealed his conviction and sentence which was heard yesterday before Justice Rolston Nelson, Justice Stanley John and Justice Ivor Archie. Leotaud was represented by attorney Anthony Jack, while attorney Devan Rampersad was the DPP's special prosecutor in the matter.
The court expressed its displeasure on the late serving of documents to Rampersad by the appellant's lawyer. Rampersad informed their lordships that he was served with the grounds of appeal and skeleton arguments by attorney for Leotaud at only 8.55 this morning, five minutes before the matter was scheduled to begin. However, in spite of the late serving of documents, and in response to the court, Rampersad said that he was able to proceed with the matter. Apart from filing four grounds of appeal, Jack also made an application to introduce fresh evidence which was a declaration of one Jeffery Brayton, who claimed he saw the woman leaving the house where she was raped at about 6.30 am. He also described her clothing and general appearance as quite tidy.
After hearing Rampersad's response to the application, the court found that no one knew who the woman was, and that the way she was described does not confirm that she did not have bruises. In addition, the court noted that it was powerful evidence that supported the prosecution's case. The woman was released from Leotaud's apartment at about 6.30 am and reported the matter to the police at 7 am. One of the other grounds of appeal was that the learned trial judge's direction to the jury was in significant part unfairly prejudicial to the applicant. The court found no merit in any of the grounds and dismissed the appeal, affirming sentence to start as of yesterday.
According to the facts of the case, the woman, who worked as an attendant in an ice cream outlet, boarded a Morvant taxi at about 4 am to take her home on July 1, 2000. Leotaud was sitting next to her and he engaged her in trifle conversation and amorous comments. She asked the taxi to stop at her home, but Leotaud instructed the driver not to do so since he and the woman were going elsewhere. A short distance away, Leotaud told the driver to stop. He got out and paid the taxi fares for he and the woman. He then began to pull and tug the woman out the vehicle. Although she resisted by holding on to the front seat, he eventually dragged her out the car. He forced her to his apartment by hitting her in her face and head. After he was able to get her in his apartment, he raped her.
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