By Latrishka Thomas
After an animated jury trial in the High Court, bus driver Addison Browne was found guilty of tying up a minor and raping her in his private car when tasked with dropping her home.
The trial began last week before Justice Ann-Marie Smith with the victim as the first witness.
She told the court that she had known the accused – who is the brother of Prime Minister Gaston Browne – for about five months before the incident took place in April 2019 by virtue of him being a bus driver for the route where she resided at the time.
The young girl said that on the day of the incident, she and her aunt were waiting outside their home for a bus to go into town, and in short order the defendant pulled up and offered them a ride.
She said that the man, who is in his early 40s, told them that he had to stop at KFC first, and her aunt said that she did not mind, and also asked if he could pick up her friend.
After making those stops, the defendant dropped her aunt and her friend in front of the St John’s Police Station. But “my aunt told him that she forgot her phone home, and if he could drop me back home for it. He said okay, no problem,” the girl recounted.
She went on to tell the court that on their way to the house she fell asleep because “I got into a car accident the week before, and the pills that they gave me makes me fall asleep”.
The child said that she felt the car stop and opened her eyes to realise that her hands and feet were tied with a white rope. The man had stopped under a tree somewhere in Potters.
“I was scared,” she said.
She recalled that the man came to the back seat where she was sitting, pulled back the seat, pulled down her underwear and removed his pants.
“I was trying to come out, but I couldn’t come out of the rope,” she stated.
She claimed that he then had sexual intercourse with her, before pulling her underwear back up, and putting his pants on.
He then drove her home. The girl said that it wasn’t until they got to the house that he untied her and threatened to kill both her and her mother if she told anyone what had happened.
She said that, in fright, she ran straight into the house and took a shower.
Several other witnesses also took the stand, including a doctor who examined the victim.
She informed the court that the complainant’s hymen was not present and there was evidence of recent trauma.
On the final day of the trial Browne gave an unsworn testimony where he claimed that the victim’s mother had asked him for a ride a week prior to the incident to go to the hospital and thereafter asked him for a sum of money to assist her godchild with a medical procedure.
According to him, when he said no, she asked for his brother’s number and he told her to contact the Ministry of Health instead.
Browne went on to say that the woman hinted at revenge.
He said a week later he gave the complainant and her aunt a ride, but he denied committing the crime.
The defendant’s lawyer Lawrence Daniels then called a witness of their own, a 20-year-old woman who claimed to be a friend of the accused.
She told the court that the victim was also her friend and claimed the girl had admitted that she lied about being raped after flagging her down when she was passing by in a car.
Under cross examination by prosecutor Curtis Cornelius, it emerged that the witness met the defendant in 2019 while Browne, who is said to also work for APUA, was working on a lamppost near her house. He apparently asked her if her mother was home and later asked to help out at a family gathering.
Cornelius tore into the witness by asking her basic questions to determine if she and the complainant were truly friends, exposing that she did not know the answers.
He also questioned the coincidence that the victim happened to be standing outside while the witness was driving by with another individual, and the likelihood that the victim would admit to lying about the rape in front of someone else.
In the end, the nine-member jury sided with the prosecution and convicted Browne.
He is set to be sentenced for the crime on July 15.