By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MAN accused of forcing a nine-year-old to give him oral sex needed medical attention yesterday when he collapsed in the prisoner’s dock after being found guilty.
A Supreme Court jury delivered a 6-3 guilty verdict to Edward Butler - although all seven women and two men were unanimously of the view that the Crown had not proved that the 64-year-old photographed the sexual act.
Moments after Justice Vera Watkins adjourned court after telling Butler he would be remanded to Her Majesty’s Prison until his sentencing on July 26, a stunned Butler, who appeared to be praying before the verdict was handed down at 4:45pm, collapsed in the prisoner’s dock.
Police stationed inside the courtroom rushed to aid of the shaking man who, for a moment, became unresponsive. EMS was contacted. Medical attention was called and his wife was contacted as he appeared to be breathing erratically. A family relative brought “his medicine” and he recovered before being carried off in a stretcher to the Princess Margaret Hospital.
Allegations and Defence
Butler face unlawful sexual intercourse and child pornography charges. He denied both charges.
It was claimed he committed the acts between November 9, 2009 and January 8, 2010.
The child told the court that one day when she was home from school due to illness, a man known to her family entered the room in which she was sleeping and wakened her.
He asked her for oral sex and when she ignored him and went back to sleep, he wakened her again and forced her to give him oral sex.
The girl said she went with her mother and uncle to a police station to report the matter in May 2010.
He had said he was stunned when the allegations were made against him and pictures shown to him when he was at the police station.
‘No Evidence’ To Support Claims
In closing arguments yesterday, Butler’s attorney, Raymond Rolle, submitted to the jury that the Crown had not produced any evidence to corroborate the testimony of the child.
He noted that the Crown called eight witnesses, excluding the complainant, and suggested that their evidence could not support the testimony of the accused to convict his client of the charges.
Regarding the testimony of Sgt Cash, who said she conducted a record of interview with his client, Mr Rolle said that the office “did not produce the photo” in question.
“More importantly, she didn’t produce the cellphone.”
He also recalled the evidence of physician, Dr Berdea Cooper, who said that the complainant, from her examination, appeared to be a normal girl with no signs of sexual activity.
He also asked the jury to note that Sgt Dale Strachan came to court and said that the collected cellphone in question was lost and could not be located.
He added that the arresting officer could only say that his client denied the allegations when cautioned and arrested.
The attorney further submitted to the jury that by the time one considers the testimony of all eight witnesses, “the prosecution hasn’t produced any evidence.”
Questioning the complainant’s evidence, he asked the jury to bear in mind that not only did the complainant testify that all three occasions occurred one day in succession to the other, but that a relative, whom she refused to tell, was only some 30 feet away from the alleged acts.
He asked the jury to recall a previous testimony that the complainant was always in the sight of an adult. He also questioned why the matter was reported well after the incidents happened and the admission from the complainant that she felt pressured about the ordeal once the matter of the picture came up.
“We submit that the prosecution failed to dig a solid foundation and build a strong case against Mr Butler,” the attorney concluded.
Case of ‘Who Do You Believe?’
In response to the defence’s submissions, prosecutor Darnell Dorsett said that the complainant alleges that the accused sexually assaulted her on different occasions and then took a photograph on one of those occasions.
The prosecutor submitted that the Crown, when combining all of the evidence, had proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
“You saw her when she gave her testimony, how she moaned and groaned when recalling that. You think she would’ve done all that if it hadn’t happened?” the prosecutor asked the jury.
She noted that the case was a matter of “who do you believe?”
“This case stands and falls on what she said,” the prosecutor added.
While the Crown did not produce the phone, as the prosecutor said they never hid that fact, she told the jury they got the real “live” account of what happened.
“Without her, we would not have a case,” the prosecutor submitted.
Regarding the Crown not producing the phone as evidence, prosecutor Dorsett noted that Bahamian law notes that an exhibit in a case need not be produced as long as two or more individuals have seen it. The prosecutor noted that nearly all of its witnesses had seen the phone and the defendant himself had seen the phone during his interview with police.
The Crown invited the jury to find a guilty verdict on both counts.
Verdict Delivered - Relative Felt Convict ‘Got Away’
Following closing submissions by counsel, Justice Watkins summarised the evidence in the case to the jury before excusing them before 3pm to deliberate on a verdict.
When the jury returned at 4:45pm, they found Butler, who was crouched over with his hands clasped together, guilty of unlawful sexual intercourse on a 6-3 verdict.
However, they unanimously acquitted him of child pornography. The jury was discharged of their duties before Mr Rolle asked for a probation report to be done before sentencing, which was set for July 26.
Justice Watkins told the convicted man that he would be remanded to prison in the interim.
Butler asked: “No bail?”
The judge’s response was “no sir,” before adjourning court and leaving the courtroom.
It was moments afterwards that the stunned man collapsed from his seat in the prisoner’s dock.
While Butler was being attended to, a relative of the victim spoke to The Tribune about the outcome of the five-day trial.
The relative felt that although justice was served due to the conviction on the first charge, “I was really hoping for him to get hold on the two matters.”
“With the phone, I feel like he get away,” the relative said.
With sentencing scheduled for July 26 when the 64-year-old man faces up to life imprisonment, the relative added that “I want him get his judgement, let him pay.”
Regarding the young girl’s state after having to attend court for a number of days and recall the experience, the family member said that the girl was “doing fine right now.”
“She’s back in school taking her tests and then she’ll graduate.” The girl is said to be an honour roll student.