Sex offender comes up for sentencing on 65th birthday

Harphis Mohammed turned 65 on Monday and appeared before Justice Carla Brown-Antoine hearing his attorney and the attorney for the State argue about the sentence which the court should impose on him for grievous sexual assault on a schoolgirl.

The taxi driver, of Marabella, was found guilty on February 21 by a jury in the San Fernando High Court. The jury could not agree on a verdict in relation to the charge of kidnapping the girl.

The incident happened 13 years ago on December 12, 2007.

The girl, who was under 18, testified before the judge and a jury of nine that she got into Mohammed’s taxi in Marabella at about 10 am to be taken a short distance away. Instead, Mohammed took her to the nearby Tropical Plaza carpark where he assaulted her.

She said she escaped from his car and called out for help from people nearby.

Brown-Antoine remanded Mohammed into custody for sentencing on Monday.

Attorney Subhas Panday, in pleading for leniency, told Brown-Antoine that Mohammed's birthday saw him turning 65. He said prior to the incident and after, Mohammed never ran afoul of the law. In 2013, he suffered a heart attack.

State attorney Veona Neale-Munroe said she could not obtain a victim impact statement because after the trial, she could not get in touch with the victim. And when she did, the state attorney added, "She said she did not want to have anything to do with the matter further."

Brown-Antoine said that she will pass sentence on March 24 and remanded Mohammed back into custody.

Addressing the public gallery, among them Mohammed’s relatives, the judge said that determining the sentence is a balancing exercise which could amount to being scientific. All factors are given weight, she added, the mitigating and the aggravating, including time spent in custody. "Let it not be said that one can just pluck a sentence from thin air just like that."


"Sex offender comes up for sentencing on 65th birthday"

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