A 75-year-old man who spent close to 25 years in prison serving sentences for incest was released by a High Court judge at a sentencing review hearing.
The man was first convicted in April 1995 for raping his daughter.
Two years later, in April 1997, he pleaded guilty to another charge of incest and at that hearing he asked the judge to consider a third charge of incest against him which involved the same child. The girl was 13 at the time.
Although all three incidents were reported to police at the same time, then then Director of Public Prosecutions chose not to join the charges and instead filed three separate indictments.
He was ordered to serve a term of life imprisonment, not to be released before the expiration of 20 years for the second and third convictions.
When a review of his sentencing came up before Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain, the judge determined that the prisoner no longer posed a threat to society and was fit to be released.
According to the judge, for his first sentence, if the prisoner had been credited the discount of one-third of his sentence by remission for good behaviour, his sentence would have expired in 2011.
Similarly, in relation to his second sentence, with remission, the prisoner would have served the minimum term by 2012. He also considered that the pensioner was said to be a model prisoner by the prison authorities, having attained the status of “honour prisoner/orderly” and was said to be “such a trusted prisoner” that he was allowed to work both in the prison superintendent’s quarters and then the commissioner’s quarters.
At the sentencing hearing, St Clair-Douglas also took into consideration that the lengthy sentence served by the prisoner would have achieved its goal of being a deterrence to potential offenders, also finding that the man had been sufficiently punished for his crimes.
According to the judge, if there was any concern about the man’s rehabilitation the question that needed to be asked was if he still posed a further risk to society.
St Clair-Douglas said no because of his age, his medical condition – he has diabetes and has had several operations, including the amputation of three of his toes; his eye-sight had significantly deteriorated – and he had not committed any infractions while incarcerated nor did he face any charges for indiscipline while in prison for the 24 years and ten months he has been in jail.
Prosecutors did not object to the man being released on the condition that adequate arrangements were made so that he did not live with any young children.
After being satisfied that such arrangements were in place, St Clair-Douglas ordered the man’s immediate release from prison.
The State was represented by attorneys Hema Soondarsingh, Danielle Thompson and Roger Hinds while the prisoner was represented by Sophia Chote SC and Peter Carter.