A 61-year -old man who raped a five-year-old girl nine years ago was yesterday sentenced to serve 22 years in prison with hard labour. In sentencing Conrad Matthias of Point Fortin, High Court judge Justice Maria Wilson said she could not begin to imagine the emotional and psychological impact the ordeal had on the child.
“Girls under 14 years are vulnerable and need to be protected. And these acts are being committed by males who young girls trust. A strong message must be sent by the court.”
The girl, now 16, testified that on a date between 2006 and 2008, she was raped by Matthias. Prosecutor Sarah de Silva led evidence from the girl in the San Fernando High Court, that the girl was left at home in Matthias’ care while her mother went with relatives to a nearby parlour.
Matthias confronted the girl in a bedroom, ordered her to take off her clothes and raped her. He then told her to put on her clothes before her mother returned home. The child was warned to “act like nothing happened”.
The girl told her mother who reported the matter to the police on January 7, 2008. PC Irmaine Johnson recorded a statement from the child’s mother and a medical examination confirmed the child was raped. Matthias was charged with one count of having sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 14.
The mother, who was a witness for the State, was actually cross-examined by de Silva after she became uncooperative and refused to give evidence in accordance with the statement she gave to the police. Matthias, who was represented by attorney Renuka Rambhajan, did not testify. Wilson said that act was planned and Matthias was put a in a position of trust.
The maximum sentence for the offence is 25 years. Wilson said the 279 days which Matthias spent in custody would be deducted from his sentence. Matthias cried as sentence was passed on him.
“I am innocent,” he said as he wept uncontrollably. Other relatives who were present for the sentencing also broke down in tears.