Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Trinidad steelpan tutor jailed for 9 years for relationship with student, 12

(Trinidad Guardian) A steelpan tutor who began a sexual relationship with a then 12-year-old student in 2009, which eventually resulted in three children, has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

Although Everton Joseph was convicted of six charges of having sex with a minor under the age of 14 earlier this year, he was only sentenced by High Court Judge Hayden St Clair-Douglas yesterday.

In passing the sentence, St Clair-Douglas noted that Joseph did not use violence towards the minor and that she did not resist his sexual advances after they met while she was learning to play the national instrument.

While he also noted that after the first incident in February 2009, the victim invited Joseph to her home when her parents were not there to have sex, he suggested that Joseph should not have participated, as he was an adult and should have known better.

“A 24-year-old man should have recognised that he was dealing with a child and should have spurned her attention. The law is clear and the message must go out that underage females are off-limits for sexual activity,” St Clair-Douglas said.

In his sentencing, the judge noted that after he was charged and the Form One student had a baby, Joseph and the girl continued their relationship, having two other children. However, he noted that he could not consider that conduct as Joseph was not charged over it.

St Clair-Douglas also noted that before the passage of the Children’s Act, which introduced new offences for sexual activity with minors and raised the age of consent to 18, there were separate offences for having sex with minors under 14-years-old and between the ages of 14 and 16.

The maximum sentence for the former is life imprisonment, with lower sentences for the latter.

According to St Clair-Douglas, consent and honest belief that the victim was an adult were valid defences to the latter charge but could not be used if the victim was under 14. He noted Joseph’s claims that he did not question her age because she was “very mature” were “unlikely in the extreme.”

“He ought to have done better. He ought to have turned away,” St Clair-Douglas said.

After considering the time Joseph spent on remand awaiting trial and sentence, St Clair-Douglas set a sentence of 10 years in prison with hard labour. The sentence was reduced by a year as St Clair-Douglas considered several British cases, in which accused persons received suspended or reduced sentences due to the risks associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in prisons.

As part of the sentence, St Clair-Douglas ordered that Joseph be added to the Sex Offenders’ Registry upon serving his sentence. St Clair-Douglas also referred to a psychiatric report prepared before his sentencing, which he said stated that Joseph had not displayed signs of being a paedophile and was unlikely to re-offend, as he ordered him to report to police annually for 10 years after his release.

In the event Joseph fails to abide by the requirements, he could be charged for a separate offence which carries a $75,000 maximum penalty.

Joseph was represented by Fulton Wilson, while prosecutor Giselle Ferguson-Heller.

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