A Police Corporal who masterminded an operation designed to traffic a 14-year-old girl and her sister has been jailed. Chief
Magistrate Priya Sewnarine sentenced Huford David to four years’ jail at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
The 36-year-old was accused of transporting the 14-year-old from Georgetown to Kumakuma Creek, Mazaruni River, where he forced her into prostitution. The Trafficking in Persons charge leveled against David detailed that the girl was sexually exploited within the period of January 1 to January 31, 2013.
The case was prosecuted by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Prosecutor, Sergeant Neville Jeffers.
Ruling yesterday, the Chief Magistrate recapped that the 36-year-old contacted the victim and her sister and offered them jobs in a shop in the interior.
Though the 14-year-old initially refused, she agreed after her sister and the lawman insisted. The senior Magistrate said that the lawman transported the teen in his black motor car and she was taken to a hotel where she spent the evening.
The court had heard that David came into her hotel room and demanded she have sex with him. According to the Chief Magistrate, the 14-year-old was told she had no choice. David, she said, forced the teen to have sex with him.
David stayed with the girl until the next morning when he picked her up later and took her to Bartica then to Itaballi and finally to the Mazaruni District. The court heard that at their destination, the corrupt lawman explained to the victim that she would work and collect money and gold, then give them to a shopkeeper named ‘Rankin’.
The Chief Magistrate said, it was there that David instructed the teenager that to “do stuff” would earn her two pennyweights of gold or $20,000 and for a man to spend the night with her he would have to pay four penny weights of gold.
It is alleged that as a result of nine sexual encounters, the teen accumulated 12 pennyweights of gold and $160,000 which she gave to the said Rankin. She said that the young girl had sex with nine men in three months as well as with the accused.
The court noted that when the teen tried to leave, he assaulted her. During her stay, it was said that the victim asked the shopkeeper for her money, only to be told that he was not in possession of the gold and money.
She then went to David, who showed her a book which revealed that she had only worked for six pennyweights of gold and $130,000, but then told her that he didn’t have it at the moment. It is alleged that the teen became annoyed and escaped.
Members of the Women Miners’ Organisation were apprised of the incident and the teen was rescued. Investigations into the matter were launched and David was subsequently apprehended and charged.
As she ruled, Magistrate Sewnarine-Beharry said that the teen had no idea what she was recruited for, since she thought she was going into the interior to work in a shop. She noted that in leading his defence, David had claimed to have been stationed elsewhere but that he had gone out on patrols.
She noted too, that he had denied knowing the victim, transferring her to the back dam and forcing her to have sex for money. The court did not believe him.
Based on the evidence, the court did not question whether the teen knew him.
In a no case submission, Attorneys-at-Law, Latchmie Rahamat and Peter Hugh, contended that the teen’s testimony was unreliable.
The Chief Magistrate said that a child cannot make certain decisions, and that she was accompanied by adults to the area. The court, she said, believes that the victim herself was placed in a situation where she had believed she had no choice but to “work.”
The court found the 36-year-old guilty as charged.
Rahamat entered a plea in mitigation. She informed the Court that her client had an impeccable record as a member of the Police Force. The lawyer said that he was a Corporal – a rank not handed to anyone and it spoke of his dedication to the job.
She added that he is a father of four minor children and is the sole breadwinner for his family. Rahamat reminded that justice should be delivered with mercy and asked the court for a reasonable sentence.
Handing down the four-year sentence, Magistrate Sewnarine-Beharry stated that she had considered both the mitigating and aggravating factors in this case. She noted the seriousness and prevalence of human trafficking as well as the fact that she was raped.
The Chief Magistrate said that the Corporal was the mastermind of an operation designed to traffic the young girl. She added that the Court ought to act as a deterrent and send a clear message to anyone contemplating this form of exploitation.
The court noted that given his age, he ought to have known the consequences of his actions. The court had found him unremorseful.
The Chief Magistrate considered that this was his first conviction, that he had four children and was the breadwinner of his family as well as the fact that he had spent some time on remand.
Following the verdict, Hugh submitted an oral notice of intentions to appeal. Though he argued that the backlog will cause his client to be in jail for a lengthy time pending appeal, his client was not a flight risk and that the charge was brought summarily; his bail petition was shot down.
David was also charged for raping the 14-year-old. He was last year committed to stand trial in the High Court for that matter.
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