The 20-year jail sentence that former prison officer Donald Lumsden received for raping the daughter of a family friend was found to have been too harsh by the Court of Appeal which shaved off five years.
A jury had unanimously found the Jamaican national guilty. High Court Justice Keith Thom imposed the 20-year sentence after noting the negative impact the incident had on the child, and how Lumsden – a prison officer and who had previously served in the Jamaican military – betrayed the family’s trust.
Lumsden appealed, arguing the sentence was too harsh, and was granted a reduction. He had also challenged the conviction, but the appeal court would have none it.
The sex offender pleaded not guilty when the indictment was first put to him in 2016. But after several days on trial against a prosecution led by Crown
Counsel Shannon Jones-Gittens, Lumsden was convicted of raping the 12-year-old girl.
The jurors who decided on his guilt heard that in May 2014 Lumsden was at the victim’s home with the family when she returned from church and said she was hungry.
Lumsden volunteered to go pick up food and left with the complainant to purchase pizza and chicken.
Instead of going to get the items right away, he took the child to Fort James and forced her to have sex with him even as she cried and asked him to stop.
After that, he took her to buy the food and they returned to the house.
The child told the court she did not report the incident right away because her sickly mother was present and she did not want to aggravate her condition.
She waited until the next morning to complain to her father when her mother was away. The court heard that when the family confronted the man, he held his head and said “Wha’ me get meself in now? Me sorry.”
He was later arrested, charged and remanded to the same jail where he once worked.
Lumsden was fired from the post of prison officer in 2013 after being caught with marijuana in his car while he was travelling to work.
It was two grammes of cannabis, so now, with the law recently passed to expunge records of possession of cannabis less than 15 grammes, he no longer has a criminal record for drug possession.
The Jamaican man had served 13 years as a soldier in his native land, and the trial judge on the rape case had highlighted this before sentencing him, as well as the fact that he used the first opportunity of being alone with the child to commit the heinous act.
The judge had also noted then that the incident had terribly affected the child whose usual excellent performance in school slipped so badly she had to repeat a class.
Meanwhile, in a separate case, Darnell Azille who was convicted of sexual intercourse with a female under the age of 14, also had five years shaved off his 15-year sentence.
The matters were heard before Justices of appeal Kelvin Baptiste, Mario Michel and Paul Webster of the Court of Appeal.
The trio dismissed Azille’s appeal against his conviction.
At the time of the incident Azille was 18 and the victim was 13. His actions had been recorded and shared with a number of people before the police became aware of the offence. In Antigua and Barbuda, consent to sex is only legal where the person giving that consent is 16 years or over.