By Latrishka Thomas
A 21-year-old man who admitted to statutory rape of a child – under the offence of unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 14 – has been sentenced to two years’ probation.
Theodore Horsford was 19 when he had intercourse with his 13-year-old victim in January 2019.
He reportedly met the girl when she was in primary school, although the offence occurred while she was in secondary school.
One day after school, the child accompanied by some friends went to the accused’s Briggins home where she admitted to having a crush on him.
When asked if she wanted to have sex, she said yes, the court heard.
They then went to the bedroom where she took off her school uniform and they proceeded to engage in sexual activity.
The minor spent that night at the home of a third party. She was spotted the next morning as people were looking for her.
She admitted to having sex with Horsford and he was later arrested.
In arriving at his judgement, Justice Iain Morley considered several factors.
He began with a sentence of 18 months since he considered the crime to fall in the “lowest category” of rape offences.
The sentence was increased to 24 months when the judge considered that the convict “closed his mind to her being at least under 16”.
But noting his good character, the term was reduced by six months.
His guilty plea entitled him to a third reduction in his sentence making it a 12-month sentence.
However, Justice Morley questioned whether such a short sentence should be substituted for probation as governed by the Probation of Offenders Act 1921 cap 345 which states: “Where any person has been convicted on indictment of any offence punishable with imprisonment, and the Court is of opinion that, having regard to the character, antecedents, age, health or mental condition of the person charged, or to the trivial nature of the offence, or to the extenuating circumstances under which the offence was committed, it is inexpedient to inflict any punishment or any other than a nominal punishment, or that it is expedient to release the offender on probation, the Court may, in lieu of imposing a sentence of imprisonment, make an order discharging the offender conditionally on his entering into a recognizance, with or without sureties, to be of good behaviour and to appear for sentence when called on at any time during such period, not exceeding three years, as may be specified in the order.”
The judge held that that section of the law allowed for a conditional discharge in appropriate circumstances.
Justice Morley reviewed the fact that Horsford was under 21 at the time, had no previous convictions and does not present a risk or danger to the public or the complainant, has been compliant to court orders and has a daughter on the way.
He then concluded that an “appropriate punishment can be achieved by something other than immediate custody”.
The judge decided to grant the convict probation instead, with several conditions.
The probation order stated that for a period of two years Horsford “shall enter into a recognizance without a surety to complete a probation order,” will be supervised, must attend court for review in six months, shall live at a specified address in Briggins, must refrain from becoming inebriated and must attend courses ordered by his supervisor.
In addition, his probation officer has “liberty…to vary or discharge the order.”
And if he breaches probation he will be resentenced and may receive a custodial term.
That breach was held to include committing further offences.
Furthermore, Horsford must pay $1000 within 3 months or spend 3 months in jail.