Man convicted of assaulting woman after long-delayed trial – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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Man convicted of assaulting woman after long-delayed trial

A 36-year-old man has been cleared of an alleged sex assault – but was given an 18-month conditional discharge for shoving the woman.

The man was convicted in Magistrates’ Court of common assault and found not guilty of a sex assault on the same victim.

Magistrate Craig Attridge ruled that, while the victim’s account of events would have amounted to a sex assault, he did not find her to be an “honest and credible witness”.

He said: “The court finds it implausible that, if a sexual assault had occurred as alleged by the complainant, when challenged by the defendant some two days or so later in respect of her allegation that he was trying and intended to rape her, the complainant would have responded without once referencing the substance of her allegation of sexual assault.”

Mr Attridge added that the “inconsistencies in the accounts given by the complainant in her interview with the police as it regards to the nature and extent of the alleged sexual assault” left him unconvinced that the defendant had sexually assaulted her.

However, Mr Attridge said that it was clear that the defendant had assaulted the woman after he threw the complainant’s phone across the room and shoved her as they both reached for it.

He added before sentencing: “I understand the context of the breakdown of the domestic relationship before the offence was committed, but this is still on the lower end of seriousness.

“It is incumbent on me, however, to balance the sentencing and the interest of the defendant, who is a man of previous good character, with the interests of society to make sure that offenders are appropriately punished.”

It was alleged earlier that on May 6, 2018 the man yanked the victim’s pants down, pushed her onto a bed and told her words to the effect of: “If you are just going to give it to everyone else, I might as well just take it.”

It was also said that he later pushed her to the floor during a scuffle for her mobile phone.

The alleged assaults were reported by the woman to police on May 8, 2018, but the defendant, from Sandys, was not interviewed and arrested until March 2019.

He pleaded not guilty to both charges later that month.

The defendant told the court that the assault never took place and that, while the two struggled over the phone and ended up on the floor, he did not push the woman.

He added that a defence statement submitted by his former lawyer Charles Richardson, which claimed that he pushed the woman onto the bed and later pushed her to the floor during a “minor scuffle”, was also incorrect and that at no point was there an incident involving a bed.

Liz Christopher, who took the case on from Mr Richardson, argued that the struggle for the phone was not an unlawful assault.

Detective Sergeant Sharnita Tankard, a witness for the prosecution, told the court she investigated the matter and sent a report to the Department of Public Prosecutions before questioning the defendant.

The officer said she was told charges would not be brought but then later got a call from the DPP’s office to say she should arrest the man.

The case took about three years to come to trial, with 23 court hearings and nine trial dates having been missed.

The Royal Gazette reported on the delays, which one magistrate said drew the case out at a “torturous rate”, in March.

The victim, who also cannot be named for legal reasons, said that she was “disappointed and disgusted in the legal system”.

She said: “As a victim that has suffered abuse for many years, I am disheartened by the magistrate’s decision today.

“It was not in the public’s interest for another Black man to be convicted; it is in the public’s interest for women to be protected from predators and abusers even in circumstances where persons are in domestic relationships.”

She added: “From a victim’s perspective, whilst I must accept the decision of the magistrate, I believe that, had the court had been provided with the photographs of my injures and a statement from my doctor by the combined prosecution, the outcome might have been different.”

• It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.