An excruciatingly painful ruling from the Court of AppealThursday, May 27, 2021
A judgement that, we suspect, was most painful to the victim of sexual abuse she suffered at the hand of her father, was handed down by the Appeal Court last Friday.
In fact, the court itself commented that the man's behaviour was “egregious and abhorrent”; however, it reduced his life sentence for the crime of incest to 15 years.
We in this space are ardent supporters of the justice system and we are desperately hoping that this court ruling is an outlier.
Because only someone with a demented mind would seek to harm their own children, let alone subject them to sexual abuse, the man whose sentence was reduced last Friday by the Court of Appeal is undoubtedly one such individual.
This poor excuse for a human being, we are told, had sex with his own daughter, who ironically, is the child of his stepdaughter, whom he had also subjected to sexual abuse.
The court heard that, after having sexual intercourse with his daughter, he threatened to kill her if she told anyone. But the girl reported the abuse to a guidance counsellor at her school which led to his arrest and charge for indecent assault and incest.
During the trial for that heinous crime the court heard from the girl's mother that she, too, had been sexually and physically abused by this beast when she was a child. That sexual abuse, it was reported, resulted in a pregnancy and the birth of the same daughter he was convicted of molesting.
In addition, both mother and daughter testified that he would beat them — the ultimate action of a coward who, most likely, lacks self-confidence and as such expressed his frustration with that deficiency in a physical way.
We would not be surprised if there is general repulsion across the country to the fact that arguments were put to the Court of Appeal that the life sentence handed down to this man — who had changed his initial not guilty plea to guilty — was manifestly excessive.
According to the Appeal Court, section 7 (4) of the Sexual Offences Act stipulates that the maximum sentence for incest is imprisonment for life, but the sentencing judge “did not specifically indicate any reason for starting at the maximum sentence” and had therefore erred in this regard.
The Appeal Court also admitted that the sentencing guidelines stipulate that the usual starting point is seven years' imprisonment. However, the court argued, that would not be an appropriate starting point for this convict since he knew that the child was born out of his sexual abuse of his stepdaughter and the fact that he meted out the same type of physical abuse to her, as he did to her mother, is a basis for a higher starting point.
Then, as if to rub salt into the victims' wounds, the court said: “[I]it is possible to imagine worse scenarios. His case is, therefore, not the worst of the worst” and does not deserve a starting point of life imprisonment. “An appropriate starting point would be 12 years.”
After that gut punch no one could blame this young woman if she is now feeling that the justice system has failed her after she was brutally robbed of her childhood and left with deep emotional scars.
Her road to recovery has been made worse.
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