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New calls for review of sex offences laws

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Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves(File photograph)

Two children’s charities have thrown their weight behind Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves’s suggestion that Parliament should consider revisiting the Island’s sexual offences laws.

While sentencing a former police officer convicted of sexually exploiting his daughter and three counts of incest to 15 years’ imprisonment, Mr Justice Greaves said that the maximum penalty for incest “is inadequate in this jurisdiction”.

He invited Parliament to consider revisiting the sexual offences laws and whether it is appropriate to increase the penalties for incest and buggery to bring them in line with those for sexual exploitation.

“Mr Justice Greaves is absolutely correct that the legislation governing sentencing for incest needs to be amended,” said Sheelagh Cooper, founder and chairwoman of the Coalition for the Protection of Children.

“We are pleased to see that he has pointed that out as it is, and always has been, a serious problem in a small community like Bermuda.”

Debi Ray-Rivers, the founder and executive director of SCARS, added: “Certainly the law makers must take some direction from the assessment of the courts in relations to offences.

“In this instance an experienced and highly regarded Justice has given his view on the current position and state of the law and consequently you have to hope that the Government is listening and will make the necessary changes to the law a priority.”

At the sentencing, Mr Justice Greaves noted that the maximum sentence for the sexual exploitation offence is far greater than the maximum sentence for incest, which he said is “inadequate in this jurisdiction”.

The court heard that the maximum sentence for sexual exploitation of a young person by a person in a position of trust is 25 years and seven years for incest.

Mr Justice Greaves said the penalty for sexual exploitation was amended after the infamous John White case, a former police officer who was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment for sexually abusing three boys. White’s sentence was later reduced to 18 years by the Court of Appeal.

And while the White case “changed everything in Bermuda when it came to sexual offences, particularly those involving children”, Mr Justice Greaves said, incest and buggery laws were not amended when the penalty for sexual exploitation of a young person by a person in a position of trust was increased from 20 to 25 years.

The Royal Gazette approached Government for comment but received no response.

Sheelagh Cooper(File photograph)