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Judicial CP - June 2005

Corpun file 16160

Trinidad Express, Port of Spain, 4 June 2005

Jail, strokes for 'dirty old man'

By Darryl Heeralal

Curtis Vincent, left, is escorted from the San Fernando High Court yesterday

A 39-year-old security guard was jailed for 20 years and is to receive 15 strokes with the birch, after he was found guilty yesterday on three counts of grievous sexual assault against a 13-year-old girl.

Curtis Vincent's eyes bulged and he grimaced as the sentence was handed down by Justice Herbert Volney in the San Fernando First Assize Court.

"You are nothing but a dirty old man," Justice Volney said as Vincent was led out of court.

A jury of eight men and one woman found Vincent, of Oxford Street, Port of Spain, guilty after deliberating for two hours.

Justice Volney, who spent time researching the penalty for the crimes, asked the court:

"Does it carry strokes. I would love to impose a whipping on this man. I would love to, and I think the public would wildly approve of it."

After researching the law, Volney said Parliament created a law but prescribed no penalty.

He turned to the jury, saying: "You see the quandary Parliament has put us in? When they should be sorting out legislation to keep a grip on crime."

For the forced oral sex, Justice Volney told Vincent, "This is not only a grievous sexual assault but a particularly heinous and aggravating act to the extreme. You will receive ten strokes with the birch and ten years' hard labour."

Vincent was sentenced to five years on the second count, and five years and five strokes for performing oral sex on the girl.

Vincent's defence was that he was at home with the girl when she said she was assaulted, but he did not commit the offences.

He was defended by attorney Dexter Bailey. State attorneys Angelica Teelucksingh and Adia Mohammed prosecuted in the case.

The girl testified that on three dates between March 2, 2003, and October 17, 2003, she was fondled, forced to perform oral sex, and had oral sex performed on her by Vincent, who told her not to tell her mother.

The girl testified that she tried to get away on each occasion, but was held down by Vincent.

PCs Gokool and Sookraj arrested and charged Vincent, who pleaded guilty to one count of serious indecency in the Point Fortin Magistrates' Court and was sent to jail for one year.

His attorney said Vincent had no wife or children, and after his release from prison last year, he got a job as a security guard and moved in with his sister and brother-in-law in Port of Spain.

The court was told that Vincent had turned to God, and had no other convictions.

Corpun file 16159

Trinidad Express, Port of Spain, 23 June 2005

Judge calls for return of cat-o-nine

By Sadé Lee-Duprey

A High Court judge has called for the return of the cat-o-nine tails to punish rapists, saying that the use of the birch has done little to stem the tide of cases involving sexual offences that are flooding the courts.

Justice Herbert Volney made the call yesterday as he sentenced a taxi driver who kidnapped and raped a female passenger to 20 years in jail plus 15 strokes with the birch.

"I observe that the imposition of strokes with the birch is not deterring the number of rapes. I also observe the prevalence of sexual offence cases that are swamping the courts. Perhaps it is time for the authorities to bring back the cat-o-nine because the birch is not doing the job," Justice Volney declared.

The judge said women in this country must be able to travel safely, and sent a message to other taxi drivers that "they have no right to fancy making young women their sex slaves".

Rawle Bekaroo, 29, of Kelly Village, St Helena stood motionless as the nine-member jury returned guilty verdicts for kidnapping, raping and sexually assaulting a then 23-year-old gas station pump attendant.

On the charge of rape, Bekaroo was sentenced to a term of 15 years hard labour and 15 strokes with the birch; five years hard labour for grievous sexual assault to follow the sentence of rape; and 20 years hard labour for kidnapping.

The judge described the victim as "one of the brave few who have had the courage to go through the painful process of living her experience over in court in a judicial system that is slow in bringing about trials."

Volney told Bekaroo: "You offered your vehicle for hire, plying the route late at night which is not uncommon these days".

He added that the prisoner was "nothing more than a PH driver with the common knowledge that at that time in the night, registered taxis hardly ply for hire, the reason is because these are dangerous times and therefore the public take a chance, especially the women when they enter these vehicles, they take a chance with their lives."

Justice Volney told the rapist that this was "classic case of a young women who worked at night shift at a gas station seeking to go home on a holiday night to be with her family and you took advantage of her in a most demeaning and debasing fashion."

The judge also sent a message to prison authorities to bring back the cat-o-nine as it is urgently required to get the message to criminals. He said that " the birch is not acting as a deterrent to men who are still raping because there is a prevalence of rape cases involving girls under 14, the court system is swamped."

The victim was on her way home around 10 p.m. on August 1, 2001 after work at the Quik Shoppe in Curepe. She took a taxi to Arima, where she got into a rental vehicle which Bekaroo had been plying for hire to go to Sangre Grande.

He stopped the car, put a piece of leather around her neck and told her that he wanted a "sex slave" for the night. He then fondled her breasts and vagina.

Bekaroo took the victim to his apartment where he forced her to have sex with him. Following the assault the victim escaped from the apartment and walked to a house where she said she found a man who agreed to help her.

She stayed overnight at the house and reported the incident the following day.

Bekaroo claimed that the victim willingly went to his house to have sex with him, and it was only after she had learnt that he had a girlfriend that she made the claims against him.

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