CoA slashes prison time for man convicted of raping boy

A man who was convicted on two counts of sexual activity with a child and had been sentenced to two concurrent life sentences has had his prison time reduced by the Court of Appeal (CoA).

Convicted child rapist: Mark Campbell at court on Monday

Mark Campbell was initially sentenced to life imprisonment on each of the two counts by trial Judge Simone Morris-Ramlall following a jury trial in 2017 at the Demerara High Court.
The Judge had set his parole eligibility at 30 years.
A jury had found that he had twice sexually penetrated a boy: in September 2011, when the boy was six years old, and again on July 10, 2013, when the boy had turned eight years old.
However, in a ruling handed down on Monday, the Court of Appeal ordered that the convict should instead serve 20 years in prison on each count, with parole not before 15 years.
He was also credited for the time he has already spent in custody.
In setting aside the sentences imposed by the trial court, the appellate court held that the trial judge did not follow sentencing principles. It also alluded to recent sentencing guidelines issued by the country’s apex court, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which would render the sentences imposed on this convict manifestly excessive.
Campbell’s appeal was heard by acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Justice of Appeal Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud.
The sex offender was represented by Attorneys-at-Law Kiswana Jefford and Ronald Daniels, while Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Teshana Lake appeared for the State.
After the jury had returned its verdict, Campbell, who had been unrepresented by counsel throughout his trial, begged the court for mercy, claiming that he did not have a fair trial.
“Since the day I enter this court and see how everything was going, I knew I couldn’t get a fair trial,” he had said, adding that his family did not assist him with retaining a lawyer.
He had expressed that it was “very hard to know” that he had been convicted of something he did not do.
But responding to Campbell’s comments, Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall had said the court was not inclined to show him mercy, given that he had violated the boy in the “worst possible way”, and did not even show “one ounce of love” to him when he, Campbell, testified.
“It was as if you were talking to a stranger. This court must send a strong message to others who may want to carry out such acts,” the Judge had noted.
Then in August 2018, Campbell had appeared before Demerara High Court Judge Priya Sewnarine-Beharry to answer a charge for a similar offence.
That time, however, he had forgone his right to a trial and had pleaded guilty to sexually penetrating a five-year-old boy on April 16, 2013.
Justice Sewnarine-Beharry had similarly imposed a life sentence on him, and had ordered that he was not to be considered eligible for parole until after serving 30 years.
In sentencing the sex offender, the Judge had considered these aggravating factors: that Campbell had abused a position of trust, as he was left to take care of the young boy; and the physical, psychological, and emotional trauma the act must have had on the little boy.
The Judge had also considered the serious nature of the offence, but had stated that Campbell, with his early guilty plea, had saved the victim the trauma of having to testify.
This publication was unable to confirm whether Campbell has appealed the custodial sentence imposed by Justice Sewnarine-Beharry. (G1)