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Judicial CP - June 2006

Corpun file 19099

Trinidad Express, Port of Spain, 1 June 2006

Twelve strokes for sex with girl, 12

By Keino Swamber
South Bureau

To receive 12 strokes of the birch: Keith Ramlagan
Keith Ramlagan escorted from the San Fernando High Court after being found guilty yesterday.

A High Court Judge yesterday ordered a man to serve 12 years in prison and receive 12 strokes with the birch for having sex with a girl who was just 12 years old when the incident occurred seven years ago.

Keith Ramlagan, 37, was told by Justice Alice Yorke-Soo Hon that he was a "grown, hard-back man" who should have known better. "The crime you committed is a very serious one," Justice Soo Hon said in the San Fernando Second Assize Court. "Not only is it very serious but, more so, it is far too prevalent. Young girls are far too often taken advantage of by older men. While it is true that this 12-and-a-half-year old led you on by sending you love letters and by having several telephone conversations with you over a nine-month period, you ought to have known better."

Justice Soo Hon told Ramlagan that he should have spoken to the girl's parents about her behaviour. The girl is now 19. "The law recognises that young girls need to be protected from themselves as well as from predators such as yourself. There can be no excuse for you meeting her at school, allowing her to be absent from classes for a whole day and taking her to your home to have sexual intercourse with her.

"On that fateful day, this 12-and-a-half-year old girl lost her innocence. That was not all she lost. From then until the present time, she has been unable to attend school, so she also lost an opportunity for her education due to the psychological and social effects as a result of this incident."

Ramlagan, a father of a 14-month-old son, was found guilty one month ago by an eight-member jury in the Second Assize Court in San Fernando. Sentence was adjourned pending the submission of a report from a probation officer to the court. The report found that he had never had any previous incident with the law.

Evidence as led by State attorney Narissa Ramsundar was that the girl was dropped off in front her school in Siparia at around 6.45 a.m. on November 22, 1999 when Ramlagan, driving a white car, stopped alongside her. He opened the front passenger door and invited the girl to sit in the car. The girl testified that she had known Ramlagan about nine months before that date and had been having telephone conversations with him. She said she had seen him once before.

The court heard that Ramlagan drove his car to his home at St John's Trace, Avocat - one house away from where the girl's grandmother lived. He took her inside and told her to take off her clothes and lie on a piece of sponge on the ground. Ramlagan removed his clothes, started to kiss and fondle the girl, put on a condom and placed his penis in her vagina. The girl became unconscious. When she regained consciousness, Ramlagan was lying beside her on the sponge and told her he could strangle her. He then placed his hands around her neck and started choking her but stopped when she talked him out of it. Ramlagan started to kiss and fondle the girl again and continued for five minutes despite pleas to stop. The girl was told to dress and was dropped off at a bridge at St John's Trace, Avocat. She was told that she would be killed if she told anyone about what happened.

On her arrival home, the girl complained to her mother who took her to the Siparia CID where a report was made to PC Winston Taitt.

Ramlagan's attorney Kevin Ratiram repeated yesterday that his client was sorry.

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