“I am very, very sorry about this. I hope everyone can forgive me,” muttered convicted child rapist 48-year-old Jegede Hodge as he tried to persuade the court to gave him a light sentence. However, trial Judge Simone Morris-Ramlall deemed his statements “unequivocal and inconsistent” when compared to what he said in a probation report in which he maintained his innocence.
On November 28, Hodge, of Mocha, East Bank Demerara, was found guilty on four counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child under 16 years of age. The jury returned unanimous verdicts in relation to all the counts.
According to the indictments presented by State Prosecutors Teriq Mohammed and Nafeeza Baig, Hodge first engaged in sexual activity with the child between May 1 and 31, 2014, when she was just 13. Again, he did it between September 1 and 30, 2014.
When the young girl turned 14 in 2015, he again engaged in sexual penetration with her between January 21 and December 31 of that year. In 2017, when she turned 16, Hodge again did the act between September 1 and 30.
In a statement to the court, the young girl expressed that when she was first raped she felt traumatised and wanted to kill herself as she thought it was her fault.
She said that she was in so much pain that many nights she cried herself to sleep. She told the probation officer that she eventually confided in her friends about what had happened and warned them to keep it a secret. Further, the rape survivor expressed that her mother did not believe her when she told her that Hodge had been molesting her. As a result of this, the young girl said that she and her mother do not share a close relationship.
According to her, Hodge would come and pick her up from school and take her “all over the place” where he would have sex with her. She said that on many occasions she begged him to use a condom as she did not want to become pregnant at an early age. As a result of what happened to her, the girl related that persons in her community began taunting her.
Hodge’s lawyer, Ravindra Mohabir asked the court to temper justice with mercy. He said that his client is a father of one, with no previous convictions. In fact, Mohabir expressed that it is unfortunate that Hodge’s three-year-old child will have to grow up without a father, as he pointed to the importance of a father in a child’s upbringing.
The lawyer also sought to adopt the contents of a probation report on his client’s character. In the report, it was noted that the convict’s family is still shocked at the nature of the offence for which he was found guilty. In the probation report, Hodge was described as a very hardworking and respectful individual by his relatives and workmates.
In this regard, Mohabir submitted that based on the findings of the probation report, it is highly possible that Hodge can be reintegrated in society.
Prosecutor Mohammed reminded the court that Hodge was found unanimously guilty on all counts and that during the trial he maintained that he was innocent. In fact, the prosecutor said that during an unsworn statement, Hodge maintained that he was being framed by the young girl’s father.
Finally, the prosecutor asked the court to consider the psychological effects the offence has had on the victim.
Justice Morris-Ramlall in arriving at a sentence considered the following factors: the nature and circumstances under which the offence was committed, the fact that he robbed the young girl of her innocence when she was just 13, and continued doing so up until she turned 16.
Furthermore, the court also took into consideration that as a result of what happened to her, the young girl shares a broken relationship with her mother and siblings, and also that Hodge has no prior antecedents and the favourable probation report, along with the plea in mitigation presented by his lawyer.
The Judge handed down separate sentences as it relates to each count. On the first charge, Hodge was jailed for 18 years; on the second charge, 20 years; on the third charge for 22 years, and on the last charge he was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment. The court, however, ordered that the sentences are to be served concurrently. The court further ordered that Hodge is to undergo counselling every four months, for persons convicted of sexual offences.
His victim receives counselling from the Ministry of Social Protection.
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