Nov 05, 2010 News
Attorney-at-law Mursaline Bacchus successfully petitioned the Guyana Court of Appeal to dismiss a rape conviction and sentence handed down on his client, Ravidat Jagnit, called Ravi. Jagnit, now 30, a labourer of Betsy Ground, East Canje, Berbice, will now have to stand a retrial.
He was sentenced on May 6, 2009 to 12 years in jail by Justice Diana Insanally at the Berbice High Court after he was found guilty of raping a 55-year-old woman at her home at Betsy Ground.
He was supposed to have committed the act on December 6, 2003 at her home. Prosecutor Ganesh Hira had presented that the accused and the woman knew each other because they did not live far apart.
He had said that on the day in question, between 19:30hrs and 20:00 hrs, the woman had just taken a bath and was returning upstairs, dressed in her underwear and wrapped in a towel, when the accused who was armed with a knife, attacked and raped her. The woman in her evidence in chief had stated that she was about to enter her bedroom when, the accused emerged from another bedroom armed with a knife and accosted her. He told her to hand over US currency that she had recently collected.
The two of them started to argue after which he told her to “out the lamp and go in the bedroom”. He then pushed her into the bedroom, bolted the door and put out the lamp before having sex with her.
During her struggles with him he showed her the knife and told her that anytime she screamed he would cut her neck. She said that ‘Ravi’ stayed a while and had sex with her again before escaping, but not before threatening her that if she told anyone he would return to cut her throat.
The Prosecutor had related that the Virtual Complainant was examined by a doctor on December 8, 2003 and it was reported that she had suffered from abrasions to the vagina.
The man was arrested and charged. He was committed on March 25, 2004, after a preliminary inquiry was conducted at the Reliance Magistrate’s Court before Magistrate Geeta Chandan Persid-Edmond.
Jagnit, who had given a sworn testimony, had testified that he had a relationship with the wife of the woman’s stepson, and that he was living with her.
He had stated that during that December, the woman’s stepson and his brother returned to the country, and he and his now reputed wife eloped to Better Hope.
The two brothers learnt of their hiding place and followed them. During a confrontation he told his reputed wife and he walked away. He said that the men told him they would ‘fix him nice’, before leaving.
He related that after that, he was constantly threatened by the two men.
On the night in question he said that he had returned from the rice field. He had a bath, ate dinner, watched television and then retired to bed. Subsequently his mother returned from Georgetown and he awoke and ate some chicken. The next day when he awoke he heard the rape victim cursing that he robbed her. He was later arrested for assaulting her and placed on bail. However in his statement to the police the accused had told a different story. He had stated that on the night in question he had a cold and was sick and slept for the entire night. He had never mentioned to the police that he was threatened by the brothers, nor did he mentioned anything about going to Better Hope with his reputed wife, nor did he say that he had a problem with the supposed rape victim.
He had mentioned that he and the brothers had a problem over a tool kit.
In presenting their case to the court of appeal, Attorney at Law Mursaline Bacchus in association with Perry Gossai had stated that there were a number of errors in the judge’s summation and direction to the jury.
The lawyer stated that his client had presented an alibi which was not taken into consideration and that the victim had lied on his client.
Another flaw, he said, was that no identification parade was conducted.
One of the main contentions the lawyer had stated was that during the Preliminary Inquiry and trial, his client had consistently given the same evidence.
The learned trial judge, he said, did not give ample and proper directions on the law relating to identification evidence. The judge, he noted, did not give any direction on the question of corroboration nor did the judge tell the jury that there was no evidence of such. This, the lawyer submitted, had robbed his client of an acquittal
The court of appeal comprising Chancellor Justice Carl Singh, and Appeal Court Judges Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Justice B.S Roy, set aside the decision of Justice Insanally and ordered a retrial. Jo-Ann Barlow appeared for the state.
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