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Sex offender loses appeal against conviction

A man convicted of sexually assaulting a schoolgirl has had his conviction upheld by the Court of Appeals despite new evidence put before the court.

Jamel Simons, 39, was found guilty last year in Magistrates’ Court of the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl in April of 2002 when he was aged 19.

His conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court earlier this year but he took his case to the Court of Appeal arguing that he could not have committed the offence at that time because he had been in prison.

While Simons admitted having sex with the teenager, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, he said it was consensual and must have taken place when the victim was 16.

However, the Court of Appeal noted that Simons was convicted on the basis that Magistrates’ Court found that he had forced himself on the teenager after she withdrew consent.

In a judgment dated November 17, the Appeal Panel said: “The reality in this case is that the appellant has latched on to the inaccurate date contained in the information, without focusing on the fact that his admission that he had sexual intercourse with the complainant and his defence that she had consented to sex rendered the error in date in the information immaterial.

“The true position is no doubt reflected in the appellant’s affidavit of May 19, 2022, where, explaining his failure to remember that he had been incarcerated at the time mentioned in the information, he said: ‘I had done something foolish, which I regret, and for which I paid my debt to society.’

“That last may or may not be true. But what is clear is that the period of time given in the information is not material on the facts of this case.”

A Magistrates’ Court trial heard earlier that Simons had conversations with the victim in 2002 before they agreed to meet on an unknown day in April that year.

The girl and a friend – another schoolgirl – skipped classes and went to a house in Warwick, where Simons lived with his mother.

She and Simons were left alone in his bedroom a few minutes after they arrived.

The victim told the court that after kissing and consensual touching, Simons pinned her arms down and forced himself on her and that she had told him repeatedly to stop.

Simons admitted that he had sex with the girl but insisted it was consensual.

He told the magistrate that he had nerve damage, which meant he could not have held her arms down and denied that she had screamed or pushed him away.

But Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo ruled that the victim was “straightforward, frank and clear” in her evidence and that Simons was “not entirely honest”.

Simons launched an appeal against his conviction before he could be sentenced but Puisne Judge Subair Williams upheld the conviction in January after she found the evidence supported the victim’s claim that Simons had used force on her after she changed her mind about sexual contact.

However, he told the Court of Appeal that while he was in custody he realised that he had been incarcerated between January 28 and May 27, 2002, which meant the incident could not have occurred in April of that year.

The court dismissed that ground of appeal, finding that the date of when the incident occurred was immaterial given the other facts of the case.

The Appeal Panel further found that the magistrate who oversaw the trial had properly considered the evidence before rendering his verdict.

“The magistrate rejected the appellant’s assertion that he had an honest belief that the complainant had consented to sexual intercourse, and there were ample grounds for him to do so,” the judgment stated.

“If, as I have held, the magistrate did not err in the manner in which he dealt with credibility, I cannot see how the judge can be criticised for accepting that he had dealt with the issue appropriately.”

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