BY DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
FREEPORT – A 25-year-old Abaco man was acquitted in the Supreme Court on Thursday of two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 12-year-old girl.
A jury of nine women found Oshanessy Armstrong not guilty on both counts by a vote of 6-3. They retired to deliberate at 1pm and returned with their verdicts around 4.30pm.
After the verdicts were read, Senior Justice Hartman Longley told Armstrong that he was free to leave and thanked the jury for their service to the court.
The two-day trial opened in the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Armstrong was accused of having sex with a minor under the age of 14 years in February and March of 2010.
The prosecution called six witnesses to give evidence on day one, including the victim and her father, two doctors, and two police officers.
The victim testified that the accused had sex with her on two occasions at a relative’s house.
The prosecution closed its case on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Armstrong, who is represented by Carlson Shurland, chose to remain silent and did not give evidence or call witnesses on his behalf.
Mr Shurland, in his closing address, told jurors that the virtual complainant was not a virgin and made up the story because she was jealous when Armstrong started taking an interest in another woman, and wanted revenge.
Prosecutor Erica Kemp, however, told jurors that Armstrong was an adult man, almost twice the age of the 12-year-old victim. He was 22 at the time of the alleged incidents.
Mrs Kemp argued that the virtual complainant was a “credible witness with no axe to grind or lie on the accused”.
The case, she said, is based on credibility, about who is telling the truth.
Ms Kemp told jurors that the victim came and told the court that she had sex with the accused on two occasions, just after she turned 12.
“She went into details and told where it happened. She kept it to herself, and it is not unusual for a pre-teen to keep secrets,” she said.
Ms Kemp reminded jurors that when Mr Shurland asked the accused if she was a virgin, the victim indicated that she was, and that Armstrong was the only person she had sex with.
The accused was the adult, while the victim was just a student, she said.
Ms Kemp said the victim’s father told the court that his daughter’s birthday is January 21, 1998, which proved that she was under age of 14 at the time of the alleged incidents.
Justice Longley delivered his summation in the case. He told jurors that the accused is presumed innocent and does not have to say anything.
He said the burden is on the Crown to prove that an offence was committed and that the person accused committed the offence.
Justice Longley told jurors that the question of consent was irrelevant, because the alleged victim was under the age of 14.
“Another important direction is that experience has shown that people who say a sexual offense occurred, sometimes for a variety of reasons, tell lies,” he said.
He also noted that there was no evidence of corroboration.
“It is dangerous to convict on the evidence of the virtual complainant alone, unless it is corroborated independently, which does not come from the virtual complainant.
“Nevertheless, despite the absence of corroboration and the danger of convicting without it, you may rely on her evidence alone to convict only if you are sure she is telling the truth,” Justice Longley said.
He told jurors that if they have a reasonable doubt, they must acquit.