A HIGH COURT judge has sentenced a Moruga man to 19 years and 23 days in prison on two counts of incest and indecent assault on his daughter which occurred between December 2005-March 2006.
After he is released from prison, the man will have to report as a sex offender four times a year for ten years.
The prisoner’s name will not be published so as to protect the identity of the victim, his daughter.
Wednesday’s sentencing by Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds in the San Fernando High Court matter was held virtually. The prisoner was convicted by a jury on April 5 at the O’Meara Judicial Complex in Arima.
He was on three indictments for incest but was only found guilty on two counts and guilty of indecent assault.
The acts took place on a date unknown from June-August 2005; on December 17, 2005; and on March 6, 2006.
The victim was taken from her home by a villager so she could enrol in a school. When that villager had to migrate, the girl was returned to her father’s home, where the acts took place.
Before the sentencing, prosecutor Norma Peters read out a victim-impact statement in which the victim said 17 years ago, she was the victim of abuse by someone who was supposed to protect her – her father. She said she was taken away from friends and family.
“I was ashamed. I hated myself…”
She said the acts negatively affected her education and still affect her psychologically.
The judge said the victim was 13-14 years old at the time and was exposed to sexual diseases and pregnancy.
She said there were several aggravating factors of the offences, describing the father's acts as “callous” and a “habitual pattern of behaviour.”
Ramsumair-Hinds started with sentences of 15 and 18 years for incest and three years for indecent assault.
To his credit, the judge said, the father of eight told a probation officer he loved his children and provided for them financially, including the daughter against whom he committed the acts.
The judge viewed as an aggravating factor the questioning of the victim, at trial, about a false statutory declaration she gave in 2019 absolving her father, who accompanied her when it was given.
The prisoner got upward adjustments of two years for each count of incest and one year for indecent assault.
The time he has already spent in prison – 342 days in total – was discounted, leaving final sentences of 16 years and 23 days; and 19 years and 23 days for the two counts of incest; and three years and 23 days for indecent assault. The sentences will run concurrently.
The prisoner will be in his 70s when he is eventually released from prison.
The judge also ordered that the registrar send a copy of her ruling to the Police Commissioner for the accused's name to be published, in 14 days, on the public sex-offender website.
Ramsumair-Hinds praised teachers who intervened, which led to the child’s rescue.
She called on everyone to not turn a blind eye to child sexual abuse. She also said acts of incest were a most serious violation by a father of his child. “It is the worst (act) anyone can imagine.”
She also bemoaned the high prevalence of incest and sexual acts against children in TT.
“The effects on a victim can seldom be erased.
“For child victims, how can we continue to turn a blind eye to sexual violence in the home?”
She said the victim’s formative years were fractured and she there were “awful gaps” in her life.
As she thanked the teachers who alerted the authorities to the victim’s case, Ramsumair-Hinds said it was the education system that rescued the victim, and urged all teachers and everyone who deals with children to act when they suspect something is wrong.
“We must intervene on the children’s behalf. Adult predators must be stopped.”
The judge also applauded good fathers who nurture their children.
The accused man was represented by public defender Kameika Peters and defence attorney Shaun Morris.