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A lawyer has defended controversial comments he made as he appeared for a man who admitted he had sex with a 13-year-old schoolgirl.

Charles Richardson, a barrister, hit out after an online post by Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police, criticised his plea in mitigation that “it has become sport for young girls to see if they can have sex with an older guy”.

Mr Richardson highlighted that lawyers acted on their client's instructions and the evidence available to them.

He later accused Mr Corbishley of being “a political, overly sensitive glory hound” and that he should concentrate on “solving some of the real issues” in Bermuda.

Mr Richardson lashed out after Mr Corbishley wrote on Facebook on Saturday that he disagreed with, and was offended by, the court statement made by Mr Richardson.

The lawyer wrote below the Facebook post: “We do not make moral judgments about them and, when we can verify that the information is indeed true, we have a duty to put it forth.

“I did my duty, sir. You may not like the truth, but if you ask the relevant officials in child welfare and social work they will confirm that this does indeed happen.

“Some parents reading this will also confirm it's the truth. No one said it was right or that it was a defence, but it is an unfortunate fact of life here in Bermuda.”

Mr Richardson's plea in mitigation was made last Friday before sentence was passed on 20-year-old Chez Rogers, who admitted unlawful carnal knowledge of the 13-year-old between August 1 and October 1 last year.

The defence lawyer said that Rogers was responsible for his actions, but asked the court to consider all of the circumstances in the case.

But Mr Corbishley said in his post: “All children — in this case a 13-year-old child, not a young woman — need the protection of law, not be used as an excuse or mitigation to wrong doing in any circumstances.

“Are we also going to accept comments like ‘she was up for it', ‘she gave me the come on' or ‘she wanted it', as this isn't far away to what has been said.

“A 13-year-old child — no excuses are possible. I will leave my comments at that.”

Mr Richardson added in a later post that Mr Corbishley should not have made a public comment about the case because sentence had still to be passed.

He added that the report in The Royal Gazette was not a full account of what was discussed in Friday's hour-long hearing and claimed that his arguments were not made as an excuse for his client's actions.

Mr Richardson said: “You, sir, I would assume would know that in deciding how long a man goes to prison — and anyone who pleads to this offence or is found guilty will go to jail without a doubt — there is a difference between a young man who actively seeks out young girls and those who are aggressively pursued and unlawfully and foolishly give in.

“They will both go to jail, but one should not be treated the same as the other.”

Mr Richardson added: “Don't shoot me for being the messenger and doing my duty, sir.

“With the greatest of respect, sir, maybe you should do your duty and stop being a political, overly sensitive glory hound and concentrate on actually solving some of the real issues we are having here in Bermuda.”

Mr Corbishley later defended his comments, saying he made no reference to the case other than the wording used in the report.

He said: “I make no comment to sentencing as that is a matter for the judge.

“I am also not a political, over sensitive glory hound as you claim but I will stand up for the rights of children to be protected as Commissioner of Police to the same degree you - rightly - have a role to defend your clients.

“As for solving the real issues we have in Bermuda the BPS are committed to doing that 24/7/365.”

Rogers is expected to be sentenced tomorrow.

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.

Online exchange: defence lawyer Charles Richardson (File photograph)
Online exchange: Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published July 14, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated July 14, 2020 at 6:51 pm)

Richardson takes on Corbishley over comments

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