Sex attacker has ‘manifestly excessive’ sentence reduced
A sex attacker jailed for 16 years has had his sentence reduced by the Court of Appeal.
Jamaican Brittonie Taylor, 31, assaulted a guest worker as she waited at a bus stop on South Shore in Smith's on the morning of May 28, 2011.
He pleaded guilty to the daylight assault at a Supreme Court hearing in February 2012, thus avoiding the need for the case to go to trial.
But sentencing judge Carlisle Greaves condemned Taylor's actions, saying that “the revulsion raised in the bosoms of right-thinking members of this society must raise the strongest urge to have him put away forever”.
He added that the 16-year jail term was “the maximum I think I can give him, given the case law before me”.
At a sitting of the Court of Appeal yesterday, defence lawyer Marc Daniels successfully argued that the sentence was “harsh and excessive”.
Mr Daniels acknowledged that Taylor had committed “a serious sexual assault”, which can carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in jail, but claimed that the “egregiousness” of the attack was at the lower end of the scale. At the initial hearing, Mr Daniels had recommended a sentence of between nine and 13 years.
He pointed out that, had Taylor pleaded not guilty, he would likely have been given a 24-year jail term after trial — a sentence comparable to that of rapists who had committed far more vicious offences.
As an example, he referred the appeals panel to the 2007 trial of Tewolde Selassie, who was jailed for 25 years after he broke into the home of a 15-year-old girl, repeatedly attacked her and threatened to kill her in 2005.
Mr Daniels argued that this was a far more serious crimes than Taylor's and yet the two men had effectively received similar sentences. Taylor admitted carrying his victim to an isolated area and forced her to perform a sex act on him. But although he also attempted to rape her, she was able to fight him off and he eventually gave up.
“There appears to be a skewed approach,” Mr Daniels said.
“Selassie got 25 years. That was a case that came close to being as bad as it can get. This case isn't in that league.”
Mr Daniels referred to another case where a defendant was jailed for 18 years for committing multiple sexual assaults — and would have been given a 12-year sentence had he pleaded guilty, as Taylor had done.
And the lawyer also pointed out that Taylor had “admitted his wrongdoing and expressed genuine remorse”, was also suffering from a bipolar condition and, according to reports, represented a low risk of reoffending.
But prosecutor Larissa Burgess argued that there were “serious and aggravating” features about the crime that warranted a lengthy jail term.
She said that Taylor had threatened to kill his victim and that she also suffered injuries during the attack after being dragged across rocky ground.
And she said the only reason Taylor had not committed rape was because his victim begged for mercy and offered him money.
“While I accept that Selassie was said to be one of the most heinous crimes and he did receive 25 years, I would respectfully submit that the present case was a very serious assault when we consider its nature,” Ms Burgess said.
After a period of deliberation behind closed doors, the three Appeals judges led by panel president Edmund Zacca, concluded that Taylor's sentence should be reduced to 14 years.
“Although this is a serious case of sexual assault, it cannot be said to be the most serious of offences,” Judge Zacca said, adding that it appeared to be “manifestly excessive”.