COURTNEY Seymour, the former Jamaica College groundsman convicted for assaulting the 14-year-old child of another staff member on the school grounds in 2021, is to be sentenced by the Half-Way-Tree Parish Court on February 16 this year.
Seymour, who is in his late 50s, was nabbed by the police last October while at the funeral service of a prominent Jamaica College alum.
Seymour, who was originally charged for sexual touching, pleaded guilty to a charge of indecent assault when he was taken before the court.
A source who spoke with the Jamaica Observer pointed out that the charge was changed to indecent assault as the parish court does not have the jurisdiction to try the offence of sexual touching, and there was an interest in keeping the matter at the parish court level.
Sexual touching can only be tried in the circuit court. Indecent assault can be tried by the parish and the circuit courts. However, indecent assault in the circuit court carries a higher penalty on conviction than in the parish court as a circuit court judge can impose a sentence of up to 15 years for the offence. An individual convicted in a parish court for indecent assault is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.
According to the sentencing guidelines for parish court judges, in respect of charges under the Offences Against the Persons Act, for matters that go to trial the usual starting point is two years, with the usual sentencing range being between 12 to 24 months for first offences and 24 to 30 months for subsequent offences.
Where there has been a guilty plea the usual starting point is 12 months while the usual range is nine to 12 months for a first offence and one to two years for subsequent offences.
According to Observer sources, Seymour carried out the act sometime in May of 2021 while the teen was in a staff area awaiting a family member.
A recording of an encounter said to be between Seymour and the child was obtained by the Observer in which a male is heard asking to be allowed to kiss the child who is heard telling him not to touch her. His advances were at one point interrupted by a cellular phone call, which he accepted, and the shrill ring of the school bell.
The Observer was reliably informed that Seymour, who was dismissed by the school shortly after the incident, was later rehired. Furthermore, no report of the matter was made to the Ministry of Education by the school’s administration.
A well-placed source said the ministry was alerted about the incident from another source. It said school officials, when contacted by the ministry, indicated that a report was given to the police on the day of the incident and that it was being investigated.
The Observer was, however, stonewalled by the St Andrew Central police and the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse when it sought to obtain further details about the incident.
Last week, Jamaica College Board Chairman Lance Hylton, when contacted by the Observer, said he was unaware of the incident but would make queries.
In the meantime the court, ahead of Seymour’s sentencing, ordered that he be fingerprinted. His criminal record and a social enquiry report were also requested.