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Judge jails man for 11 years for violent sexual assault on care worker

A man who violently sexually assaulted a care worker while she walked to work was yesterday jailed for 11 years.

The Supreme Court heard that Ronald Kirkland Simmons, 39, attempted to pull the victim behind a gate and held a knife to her neck before assaulting her on the morning of September 20, 2020.

The victim – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – said she could not recognise her attacker because he had worn a helmet with a dark tinted visor and a face covering with a skull design.

But police were later able to link Simmons, who lived in Pembroke, to the attack through his motorcycle and forensic evidence.

Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams highlighted that Simmons had past convictions for both violent and sexual offences, and noted that a psychological report on Simmons suggested that he had a high risk of reoffending.

Mrs Justice Subair Williams added that the 11 years in prison would be followed by a 15-year supervision order.

Cindy Clarke, the Director of Public Prosecutions, told the court that on the morning of the attack the victim was walking to work in Pembroke at about 6.20am when she saw a red motorcycle ride past her.

A short time later, she saw the same motorcycle again, travelling in the same direction she was going.

She then saw a man walking towards her on the opposite side of the road wearing black clothing, including a helmet with a dark tinted visor and a face covering.

Ms Clarke said the man crossed the road, which caused the victim to do the same to avoid him.

The victim said the man then approached her from behind, produced a knife and told her not to shout.

The victim begged her attacker for her life and said she did not have any money as he tried to drag her to a nearby gate and out of the view of the road.

When she continued to resist and make noise, he told her: “Shut up or I will slice your neck.”

The court heard the attacker held the victim down and began to sexually assault her when she heard him speaking to another person she could not see.

She said she could hear her attacker say: “Keep walking or I will kill you.”

She said the attacker held the knife to her neck as she struggled, but he eventually stopped the attack and fled to his red bike.

The victim attempted to check the licence plate of the vehicle, but it had been covered with a bag.

The court also heard that a witness, who was not named in court, had told police they were walking along the road when they saw the victim and the attacker after hearing whimpering at the side of the road.

He told officers that the attacker had told him: “Keep going on your way or I will kill you.”

The witness said that he did not have a phone on him, but after the attacker threatened him he ran to nearby houses to get help.

He flagged down a passing car and was able to get the driver to call police.

The victim was taken to hospital, where she was found to have cuts to her neck along with bruises.

Police investigating the offence were able to identify the make of the vehicle through CCTV and identified Simmons among the 55 people on the island who owned the model of motorcycle.

Simmons was stopped by police on September 26, when police seized both a black helmet and a face covering with a skull design matching that described by the victim.

While he initially denied the offence, forensic evidence from the victim further linked him to the crime.

He pleaded guilty to the crime during an appearance before the Supreme Court in June.

Police welcome sentence

Nicholas Pedro, Acting Assistant Commissioner for the Bermuda Police Service, welcomed the 11-year sentence handed down to Simmons.

Mr Pedro said: “Detectives from our Vulnerable Persons Unit responded to the matter, and having built a good rapport with the woman, were able to progress lines of inquiry that led to the identification, arrest, and charging of the suspect in this case.

“Ronald Kirkland Simmons was arrested by detectives following specific evidence obtained in the case, six days after the assault.”

Mr Pedro added that the police service were aware of the trauma and sigma attached to sexual assaults and were grateful they were able to bring the offender to justice.

“Hopefully the woman who was subjected to this incident of sexual assault will take some measure of comfort from this result, and be able to continue her healing journey,” he added.

“We are keen to assist, support, and help any person who may have been sexually assaulted.

“If you have questions, or would like to talk to one of our trained professionals about a sexual assault, please contact the Vulnerable Persons Unit on 247-1739 or 211. We are here to help.”

The Supreme Court heard Simmons had several previous offences, including a conviction for causing actual bodily harm to a female victim.

Ms Clarke called for a sentence of between 14 and 16 years, to be followed by a 15-year supervision order given the risk of reoffending highlighted in the psychological report.

However, Charles Richardson, counsel for Simmons, said such a sentence would be excessive given past precedents, suggesting a ten-year period of imprisonment and a 14-year supervision order would be more appropriate.

Simmons apologised for his actions, saying that he did not intent to traumatise the victim.

“I don’t even know fully exactly what happened with this,” he said.

Mrs Justice Subair Williams said Simmons “forcibly abducted” the victim before the sexual assault, which had left her feeling unsafe even in her own home.

She added that she accepted the psychological report’s findings that Simmons was at high risk of committing future violent sexual acts, and noted that the report writer voiced concerns about the lack of resources to address his mental issues on island.

But Ms Justice Subair Williams said he was entitled to a discount for his guilty plea.

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