A 36-year-old Tunapuna man has been jailed for raping his then 13-year-old stepdaughter three times in 2012, while her mother was in hospital.
On Wednesday, he received a maximum sentence of 15 years from Justice Carla Brown-Antoine, who sent a message that the court will have “no tolerance” for such offences.
Because of the man’s familial relationship with the victim, his name cannot be used, to protect the victim, now 22.
The man pleaded guilty to three counts of having sexual intercourse with a female under 14 years after accepting the judge’s proposed sentence at a maximum sentence indication hearing.
Brown-Antoine started with the 15-year maximum but credited his guilty plea and the seven years and six months he spent in prison awaiting sentence.
This means he will remain in prison for two years and six months.
At Wednesday’s virtual sentencing hearing, Brown-Antoine referred to recent news reports of sexual abuse of minors, sending a message to would-be offenders.
“If you were listening to the news recently you will see how prevalent sexual abuse of children is. It is very prevalent in this society.
“This court must send a signal…a warning to potential offenders: Do not commit these offences, because the court will deal with these serious offences in the manner in which they should be dealt with…in a serious way. You will face serious consequences in court for the sexual abuse of children.
“This court will have no tolerance for such offences,” she warned.
She said the most aggravating factor in this case was that the accused was the victim’s stepfather and the father of one of her sisters.
“There was a breach of trust…and he was responsible for her care. She was entitled to expect protection and not to be abused by him.”
She also referred to the evidence that the incident had attracted the attention of a younger sibling when the then 13-year-old had screamed.
“This could affect these children for the rest of their lives,” she said.
According to the prosecution’s evidence, the girl’s mother was in a relationship with the man, who was the father of one of her five children. The victim and her four siblings would visit the man’s home with their mother every two weeks to spend the weekend there.
The first rape took place on October 19, 2012, when the girl, her mother, and her siblings were at his home. They stayed longer than the weekend, since he complained of not being able to see his baby often.
During their stay, the girl’s mother had to be hospitalised and she and her siblings were left in the care of the accused and his sister.
On that day, she was raped in the toilet after she and her siblings watched cartoons, played a game of "ketch" outside, and ate.
He removed her underwear and his pants, stood behind her, and raped her. She began to bawl and he threatened that if she told her mother, he would kill her.
A week later, at night, she was raped again and the next night. Those acts took place on October 26 and 27, while her mother was still in hospital.
On November 3, one of the girl’s sisters told their mother she had heard her bawling and when she “peeped through a hole in the door of the toilet,” she saw their stepfather naked, standing behind her sister, raping her,
The girl’s mother immediately called the police and the man was arrested and later charged.
He was represented in court by attorney Josiah Soo Hon. Giselle Heller-Ferguson and Sophia Sandy-Smith represented the prosecution.