By: Gavincia Clarke
(CHARLESTOWN, NEVIS)- His Lordship Justice Albert Redhead on Thursday, December 19, 2013 sentenced Sylvester Merchant of Pond Hill, Gingerland to 15 years imprisonment for the crime of unlawful carnal knowledge.
A 12 member jury panel on Thursday, December 5, 2013 found Merchant guilty of unlawful carnal knowledge. He was found not guilty on the charges of rape and buggery. These offenses stemmed from February 19, 2013 where the accused is said to have committed these acts to a female under the age of 16 years to wit 15 years of age at his Pond Hill residence.
Today, Merchant stood in the docket at the mercy of the court. When asked by His Lordship if he had anything to say, the defendant responded that he had nothing to say and he would leave it up to his lawyer.
His Attorney, Dr. Henry Browne QC in an effort to secure a reasonable sentence on behalf of his client began to mitigate to the court.
Dr. Browne stated that today was indeed a difficult day. He asked the court to consider the universal fact that human beings are fragile vessels. He stated that some persons are weaker than others. He highlighted that his client is a friendly, hard worker who has been engaged principally in the profession of carpentry for 29 years. QC Browne continued that his client is 49 years old with 5 children and stands before the court remorseful.
According to QC Browne, the defendant is known to have a good reputation. Until this unfortunate incident, his client had an unblemished criminal record, and that should be taken into consideration. He further stated that Merchant had been able to experience prison for a short period and he had time to reflect on the unfortunate stew that he finds himself in. Browne asked the court if a man with an unblemished record does not deserves a chance to redeem himself.
His Lordship Justice Redhead asked the QC Browne what he considered a ‘chance’. QC Browne responded, “Maybe put a strain on his pocket”. His Lordship quickly dismissed that idea and said that was out of the question.
His Lordship told the court that the accused had deceived the mother, he was a friend of the mother and she trusted him. He also said the child was in her school uniform at the time of the incident.
Even with those issues outlined by the Judge, QC Browne asked the court to consider that his client is a man of good character, he possessed an unblemished record, and that he is a man of the community.
“One of the things that puzzled me in the case was the usage of baby oil, it seems to me that is a part of your trick”, the judge stated.
He further stated, “You are a friend of the mother, you asked her to take her to school and you know what your intention was. She was only 15 years. You insulted her mother”.
Another part of the evidence that His Lordship outlined is when someone called the defendant on the phone and asked if he had a girl there and he laughed. Justice Redhead describes the matter as ‘sickening’.
“I must send a message out there for men to leave school children alone”, he said. Thereafter His Lordship sentenced the defendant to 15 years imprisonment.
The charge carries a maximum of life imprisonment.