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Judicial CP - February 2008
Bahama Journal, Nassau, 29 February 2008
No Flogging For Child Rapist
By Tosheena Robinson-Blair
A man convicted more than a year ago for having sex with a six-year-old girl will not be flogged, according to a Court of Appeal ruling handed down earlier this week
Andrew Bridgewater pleaded guilty and was convicted in December 2006 of having unlawful sexual intercourse with the child.
On Wednesday he had part of his sentence set aside by the Court of Appeal.
On May 30, 2007, Bridgewater was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment plus 10 strokes of the cat-o-nine tails for having sex with the minor.
The punishment was to be administered in two installments of five strokes with an interval of 14 days between them.
However, Bridgewater's attorney Wayne Watson appealed the sentence on the ground that it was too harsh. Among other things, Mr. Watson pointed to the fact that his client had no previous convictions for any similar offence, was slightly retarded and showed remorse for what he had done.
On Wednesday, the Court of Appeal ruled that the seven-year prison sentence was not "unduly severe."
In their ruling, Court of Appeal justices wrote that a guilty plea in such a case would normally result in a reduction in sentencing. However, this matter was different.
"The injuries to the young girl, the breach of trust which she and her caregiver reposed in the appellant, the fact that he admitted looking at her as a sexual object from watching her dance some time before the date of the attack on her and then going on to fulfill that desire, the fact that she may never be able to have a normal relationship with a member of the opposite gender because of the physical, mental and psychological damage to her makes this offence one that should receive severe punishment," the justices wrote in their decision.
"However, such punishment must be in accordance with the law."
During the sentencing hearing, evidence was produced indicating that Bridgewater was able to convince the six-year-old girl to leave the home of her caretaker to go with him to a shop.
However, he took her to a mall and then to a home to watch television, according to the evidence. After that he reportedly took the child to an abandoned car in bushes off Blue Hill Road and had vaginal and anal sex with her.
During the sexual assault, Bridgewater also punched the child in the face, according to the evidence.
As for the 10 strokes of the cat-o-nine tails that was handed down by Senior Justice Anita Allen, the Court of Appeal ruled that corporal punishment was never part of the punishment for rape or other sexual offences, as such the court set aside that part of the sentencing.
The Court of Appeal justices pointed out that although the Criminal Law Act extends corporal punishment to persons convicted of an offence under the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act that is in direct conflict with article 17(1) of the country's constitution.
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