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Former Wedco chairman loses bid to overturn sex assault conviction

Ray Charlton (File photograph)

A former One Bermuda Alliance election candidate and Wedco chairman convicted of sexual assault has lost an attempt to overturn his conviction.

Raymond Charlton was convicted in March of a sex assault on a 20-year-old woman, but launched an appeal on the basis that he committed the act in a state of “involuntary intoxication”.

He highlighted a psychological report carried out by Sebastian Henagulph, a forensic psychiatrist, after his conviction which said a combination of cannabis and medication had caused a “prolonged and moderately severe episode of mania without psychotic symptoms”.

However Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams said last week that the report did not support a voluntary intoxication defence.

“To the contrary, this is a clear case of voluntary intoxication, a principle that the learned magistrate properly considered,” she said.

“Dr Henagulph’s report outlines various examples in which the appellant abused cannabis smoking during a period shortly prior to August, 2018 when he suffered similar previous episodes which would also be described as manic.

“While cannabis misuse is not reported to be the single cause of the offending behaviour, it was clearly a significant contributing factor.”

Charlton, from Sandys, was accused of making lewd comments to the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and grabbing her buttocks on August 22, 2018, at her home in Sandys.

He denied the allegations, saying the complainant has misunderstood his comments and that he had only patted the woman’s back to get her attention.

Magistrate Craig Attridge found Charlton guilty of sexual assault last March, but the defendant launched an appeal before he could be sentenced.

In the Supreme Court, Elizabeth Christopher, counsel for Charlton, highlighted Dr Henagulph’s report, which suggested that her client suffered from unintentional intoxication caused by a combination of cannabis and medication.

As such, she argued the conviction should be quashed.

But Mrs Justice Subair Williams said the report had only established that Charlton was abusing cannabis, and that the use of cannabis – either alone or in combination with his other medication – had caused him to feel intoxicated.

“I am persuaded that his conclusions were drawn on a clear and express appreciation that the appellant was incessantly smoking cannabis during a period covering August 22, 2018, when the offences were committed,” Mrs Justice Subair Williams said.

“So it is evident that Dr Henagulph would have kept the appellant’s cannabis smoking at the forefront of his analysis when he opined that Charlton’s episodes of mania directly resulted from the combination of the prescription medications and cannabis constituents.”

She also highlighted the different positions taken by the defendant in trial and during his appeal.

“At trial, Charlton mounted a defence that he had not performed the offending acts. He explained in some detail that the complainant had misunderstood his vernacular and he expressly denied grabbing and squeezing her buttocks, claiming that he instead patted her on the back,” Mrs Justice Subair Williams said.

“However on appeal he now appears to accept that he did commit the offences for which he was committed but did so in an involuntary state of intoxication.

“Magistrate Attridge accepted the Crown’s evidence as proven beyond a reasonable doubt and found that the appellant’s evidence was not of the quality to inject doubt into the Crown’s proven case.

“In making this finding, the magistrate rejected the appellant as a truthful witness. I see no reason to interfere with those findings.”

The judge remitted the matter back to Magistrates’ Court for sentence.

Charlton joined the OBA in 2011 and ran in the Sandys North constituency in the 2012 and 2017 General Elections.

He lost by just eight votes to the Progressive Labour Party’s Michael Scott in 2012 and by 280 votes in 2017.

Charlton was the chairman of Wedco between 2013 and 2019.

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