- Youth hardest hit by COVID-19 Read More
- Branding key to selling Bajan and Caribbean products, says Caddle Read More
- ECB wants substitute rule for coronavirus Read More
- Hill open to motoring restrictions Read More
- Wanted: A more efficient airport Read More
- Low-hanging fruit for all Read More
- Avatar sequel to resume filming in New Zealand Read More
Port of Spain – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Thursday reduced the sentence of a Guyanese man and stressed the need for sentencing guidelines to be developed and published by the Judiciary of Guyana.
The CCJ, which is the country’s highest court, allowed the appeal in which Linton Pompey, who was convicted on September 21, 2015 of three sexual offences against his niece, was jailed for 37 years.
Pompey was found guilty of sexually assaulting his niece, who was 14 years old at the time, and the trial judge sentenced him to five years on the sexual assault charge and 15 and 17 years for the first and second rape convictions. The judge ordered that the sentences run consecutively.
The Court of Appeal dismissed Pompey’s appeal against both his conviction and the sentences, noting that it was important to send a strong message that sexual offences, particularly rape, of child family members would not be tolerated.
But the CCJ, which only gave Pompey permission to appeal his claim that his sentences were too severe, unanimously agreed that the overall prison time of 37 years was excessive, but remained divided as to how that time should be reduced.
In the majority opinion delivered by CCJ President, Justice Saunders, on behalf of Justices Rajnauth-Lee, Barrow, Burgess and Jamadar, noted that although it was open to the trial judge to order consecutive sentences as the offences arose from separate incidents, he did not sufficiently consider that the resulting combined sentence would be excessively high.
They felt that the trial judge could have imposed a sentence for the second rape, the most serious offence that fairly reflected the offender’s overall criminality. In this way, Pompey would have served the lesser two sentences simultaneously with the sentences given for the second rape.
In applying this option, the majority held that the sentence of 17 years passed for the second rape was neither so lenient nor so harsh that it warranted being set aside by an appellate court. The majority, therefore, did not adjust that sentence but ordered that the other two sentences be served at the same time resulting in an overall sentence of 17 years.
In separate concurring opinions, Justices Rajnauth-Lee and Jamadar focused on the alarming prevalence of sexual offences against children and the robust approach that was required in respect of sentencing for such offences.
But in their dissenting opinion, Justice Wit and Anderson considered that appellate courts are given wide powers to review sentences.
They said as the cumulative 37 years in prison was excessive, the sentences imposed should be replaced by sentences that were warranted in all the circumstances of the case.
They also argued that the sentences should accordingly be replaced with nine years for the second rape, six years for the first rape, and nine months for the sexual assault conviction and would also have ordered that these sentences run concurrently. (CMC)