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Judicial CP - April 1998

Corpun file 8323

Trinidad Express, Port of Spain, 1 April 1998

Appeal judges confirm rapist's 20-year sentence

By Olivia Mejias

A 24-year-old man convicted in December, 1997 for raping a nine-year-old female relative and committing an act of serious indecency on an 11-year-old male relative lost his appeal yesterday morning.

Appeal Court judges Sat Sharma, Zainool Hosein and Jean Permanand affirmed a 20-year sentence on Byron Butler, a former security guard, for what they termed his "brutal acts" against two young children.

On December 19, 1997, Butler was sentenced to 15 years and ten strokes with the birch by Justice Alice Soo Hon for raping the girl and five years for the act of serious indecency. The sentences were to run consecutively. He was 18 years old when he committed both acts.

Butler had initially pleaded not guilty to both offences, but after the two young victims testified in court, changed his plea to guilty and admitted to raping the girl at least five times during the period June 11 to July 14, 1990.

The female victim testified that he had sex with her inside her home four times and once while she was bathing in an outside bathroom.

When he had finished raping her in the bathroom, he had called her 11-year-old brother and made him perform oral sex on him.

They eventually told their aunt what had happened and the man was arrested on July 24, 1995.

Attorney Mervyn Mitchell had defended Butler at the trial and also appeared for him yesterday.

He asked the court to mitigate Butler's sentence since the man had been 18 at the time and had no previous convictions.

Justice Sat Sharma drew Mitchell's attention to the fact that Butler had admitted to raping the girl on more than one occasion.

In affirming the sentence, Sharma told the court, "people who bring unmeritorious appeals cause a bottleneck and prevent other bona-fide appeals from being heard in time."

Corpun file 8322

Trinidad Express, Port of Spain, 10 April 1998

Judge gives attacker "a discount"

14 years, 10 strokes for chopping

By Josie-Ann Carrington
Central/South Bureau

THE expression on Cherry Ann Ferreira's face was "a thing of beauty" yesterday when the judge jailed and ordered strokes for the man who tried to kill her because he felt she was "too pretty" to live.

Justice Kenny Persad, presiding in the San Fernando Third Assize Court, sentenced Michael Amrow to 14 years with hard labour, and ten strokes with the birch, for chopping Ferreira about her body in an unprovoked attack.

Ferreira embraced State attorney Margaret Alert and the police officer in charge of the investigation, PC Kurt Simon, before leaving the court, thanking them for closing that chapter of her life.

Outside the court room, surrounded by family members who came to support her, Ferreira was all smiles.

"I'm very relieved now that this is over," she said. "My husband had to work today and could not be here, but I'm going to call him right now."

The attack had caused her to postpone her wedding. Ferreira was due to be married in August, 1995.

She was chopped a few weeks before her wedding day and had to spend three weeks in hospital. It was only six months ago that she eventually walked down the aisle.

Her emotions yesterday were the opposite to what she experienced on Tuesday, when she burst into tears after the case was adjourned for the judge to consider a legal point after Amrow had pleaded guilty, but then changed his plea to not guilty.

Life for 29-year-old Ferreira changed dramatically on August 17, 1995, as she walked from her home at Union Road, Marabella to take crochet lessons.

Amrow, whom she had never seen before, walked up to her, spun her around and said, "Look at that pretty face. Let me see that face."

Then he fired a chop at her face.

Ferreira blocked the blow with her left hand, and her wrist was almost severed. She ran into a snackette nearby. Amrow followed her, and chopped at her legs as she crouched on the floor.

Amrow repeatedly chopped Ferreira until someone struck him from behind, and he ran off.

Ferreira has lost partial use of her left hand, and walks with a slight limp as a result of the injuries she sustained.

On Monday, Amrow, 38, a shoemaker of Charles Street, Gasparillo, initially pleaded guilty to attempted murder, and the judge adjourned the matter to the following day for sentence, but through his attorney, Dushant Persad-Maharaj, Amrow changed his plea to not guilty before sentence was passed.

When the matter was called yesterday, Amrow told the court he was willing to plead guilty to the lesser count of wounding with intent, for which the maximum sentence is 15 years in jail with hard labour.

Persad-Maharaj, in his plea in mitigation, told the court Amrow intended to "frighten her" after they had an argument, and in doing so chopped Ferreira on her wrist and leg.

Persad-Maharaj also said Amrow spent two years and seven months in jail awaiting trial, and he had started reading the bible.

"That is so important now that it is Easter time with Christ and thing," Persad-Maharaj added, much to the amusement of the court.

Before sentencing Amrow, Justice Persad told him, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever. In your case it was not. Sad, very sad.

"That woman has been maimed for life and you alone know why you did that. The scars will be a constant reminder to her of that dreadful day. Can you imagine the trauma, the pain?"

Persad said he considered the fact that Amrow pleaded guilty, as well as "the unprovoked, brutal and vicious attack on the young lady". As a result, he said, he gave Amrow "a discount" on his sentence by sending him to jail for one year less than the maximum 15 years.

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