Court of Appeal Judge presiding over cases at the Sexual Offences Model Court in Freetown, Honourable Justice Jamesina E. King has sentenced 18-year old pupil, Desmond Augustine Pratt, to 10 years imprisonment for sexually penetrating a 12-year old girl.
The convict Desmond Augustine Pratt, was before the court on two counts of an indictment of Sexual Penetration contrary to section 19 of the Sexual Offences Act 2012, Act No. 12 of 2012 and Sexual Penetration contrary to section 19 of the Sexual Offences Act 2012, Act No. 12 of 2012 as repealed and replaced by Section 4 (a) (ii) of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2019, Act No 8 of 2019.
According to the particulars of the offence, the accused on a date unknown between the 1st day of January and 31st day of August 2019, at Freetown in the Western Area of the Republic of Sierra Leone engaged in an act of sexual penetration with a child.
During his arraignment, the convict denied the allegation.
State Prosecutor Philratu Hastings-Spaine made an Application for trial by judge alone instead of Judge and jury. Hon. Justice King granted her application.
During the trial, the Prosecutor led in evidence four witnesses and tendered five exhibits including the Voluntary Caution Statement of the accused, birth certificate for the victim and photos of the crime scene.
In her testimony before the court, the victim recognized the accused and recalled that on a certain day between the 1st and 31st day of August 2019, her mother sent her to her friend, Aunty Mummy, to borrow some CD plates.
She said she went to the house and met the lady leaving in a rush and she gave her all the CD plates and asked her to sort out the one she needed as well as leave the rest to anyone home. In that same building, the accused had a room at the entrance of the door where she met the accused after taking the CD plates.
She added that she wanted to give him the CD plates but he refused and immediately pushed her into the bed, as the room was open.
She said she was screaming and shouting but the accused threatened to kill her as he partially tore her pants and inserted his penis into her vagina.
The 12-year old victim further told the court that the accused was moving upwards and downwards and after he was done, he threatened to kill her if she reported anything to her Mum.
When put to his election after the close of the Prosecution’s case, the accused opted to testify on oath and call witnesses.
Three witnesses testified in support of his case.
In his testimony, the accused confirmed that he lived in the neighbourhood but denied either living in the same compound with the victim or sexually penetrating her.
Delivering her judgment, Justice King noted that the Prosecution failed to prove its case in relation to Count 1 for which she acquitted and discharged the accused.
In respect of count 2, she said, “I, therefore, find that the Prosecution has proved all the elements of the offence in count 2 beyond reasonable doubt that the 12-year old was sexually penetrated by the accused Desmond Augustine Pratt on 3rd June 2020.”
“I, therefore, find the accused Desmond Augustine Pratt guilty of the offence of sexual penetration contrary to section 19 of the Sexual Offences Act of 2012 as repealed and replaced by Section 4 (a) (ii) of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2019, Act No 8 of 2019 and convict him accordingly,” she stated.
In her plea in mitigation, Defence Counsel from Legal Aid Board, Cecilia Tucker pleaded for justice to be tempered with mercy.
Justice King sentenced Pratt to ten (10) years imprisonment including time already spent in detention, that is, three weeks when he was arrested in June 2020 and his detention during the trial since October 2020 to date.