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Former chief minister jailed in Montserrat


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Former chief minister jailed in Montserrat
David Brandt (GP)

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BRADES, Montserrat – A High Court Judge on Monday sentenced former chief minister David Brandt to 15 years in jail after he had earlier been found guilty on six counts of sexual exploitation and one count of perverting the course of justice.

But Brandt immediately indicated that he intends appealing the sentence, insisting that he had no physical contact with the young girls who were between the ages of 13 to 15 years when the crimes were alleged to have taken place.

“I am not broken. I will not be broken. Do I look like a man broken?” said Brandt, who defended himself during the trial.

Brandt, who served as chief minister here from 1997 to 2001, told reporters he is confident of winning his appeal and having the verdict reversed.

The Court had set sentencing for July 14, but the matter was postponed to Monday as the High Court awaited the Social Inquiry Report that became available last Friday.

In sentencing Brandt to prison, Justice Stanley John said that because the charges were so “aggravated”  and that Brandt had used his position, most notably as a senior lawyer here, a wealthy person and a former chief minister, he was adding 18 months to the seven- and nine-year sentences that had been imposed on the sexual charges.

On the five of the six counts of sexual exploitation, Brandt was given jail terms of nine years while on the sixth count he was jailed for seven years.

On the charge of perverting the course of justice, Brandt, who is in his 70’s, was jailed for 15 years. The sentences are to run concurrently

In passing sentence, Justice John said that while there were some mitigating factors before the Court, the aggravated nature of the charges far outweighed them.

The judge spoke of the age of Brandt, his various illnesses, being immobile and having other medical challenges as well as the 12 months he had been in prison awaiting trial.

A number of prominent Montserratians, including former acting Governor Sir Howard Fergus, made pleas on behalf of Brandt, but the judge said that their intervention did not come close to the violations against the children.

In the Social Inquiry Report, Mrs Brandt and their children also asked for leniency and forgiveness, but the judge noted that the victims were between the ages of 13 and 15 and that what made it a very serious offence.

The Report had also indicated that Brandt had shown remorse and also agreed to go through a course of therapy. He asked for forgiveness.

The judge said that the whole idea of the sentencing was to send a message to other would be perpetrators that this is “very very serious”.

He said not only having sex with minors, but the exploitation, adding that the 15-year jail term for perverting the course of justice had to do with the other seven counts.

Brandt was originally charged with seven counts of sexual exploitation, but the jury could not reach a decision on the first count.He had been remanded into custody since the end of the trial on June 30.

The case against the prominent attorney dates back to September 18, 2015 when Brandt was initially arrested and charged with one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor in 2010.

In 2015, he was charged with conspiracy to have sex with a minor, due to developments that took place between April to September that year.

Brandt had always maintained his innocence, and that “my day in court will show that is the case, and that I am innocent. These allegations that have been brought against me are totally false.”

But in November 2018, Brandt was taken into custody by local police assisted by the members the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and several charges were laid against him including two counts of child sexual exploitation and one count of perverting the course of justice.

In the midst of the 1997 volcanic devastation, Brandt assumed the position of chief minister, retiring from active politics in 2001. As a member of the Legislative Council of Montserrat, he won a seat in every election since his first attempt in 1983. (CMC)