By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A JUDGE yesterday sentenced a man to 12 years in prison for sexually assaulting a nine-year-old girl.
Christopher Butler faced up to life imprisonment yesterday when he appeared before a judge for sentencing in connection with sexually assaulting a girl entrusted to his care in 2005.
Though Justice Carolita Bethell noted that the aggravating circumstances behind the approximate 10 assaults on the then nine-year-old victim outweighed the mitigating circumstances, the judge said that the court was guided by sentencing and case law in determining that 12 years imprisonment was an appropriate punishment in the circumstances.
The concurrent sentences for the two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse took into account that it was Butler’s first conviction for the sexual offence and that he had waited nine years for a Supreme Court trial.
The aggravating factors the court considered were: the age of the complainant, the age difference between the two, the complainant was entrusted to his care, his lack of remorse for what took place, the physical and mental trauma the victim suffered and the victim having to relive the experience in court on two occasions.
The 12 years, to run from the day of conviction, was reduced to nine years after taking into account his three years on remand.
On October 15, a nine member jury unanimously accepted the testimony of the victim, now 18 years old, that she was sexually assaulted by Butler, who was 39 at the time.
The incidents occurred after she returned home from school between May 1 and 10, 2005. The girl reported the encounters to her guidance counsellor fearful that her mother, now deceased, would not take her word over Butler’s.
The mother was contacted about the abuse by the guidance counsellor who also alerted the police about the situation. The victim was medically examined and a physician concluded that she was sexually assaulted based on the damage to her genitalia.
Butler was arraigned in Magistrate’s Court on May 17, 2005 and was released on $10,000 bail that day ahead of a preliminary inquiry in the lower court.
The pre-trial was not completed until June 2009 when the case was forwarded to the Supreme Court.
Butler, who was rearrested for possession of dangerous drugs in 2007, remained in prison until July 2010 as he had yet to be tried in the Supreme Court a year after the matter had ended in the lower court.
This remained the case until August 2013 when he was formally arraigned in the Supreme Court for the first time and was given a trial date for October 2014.
Butler, who was not represented, has 21 days to appeal the conviction and sentence to the Court of Appeal.
Edmund Turner prosecuted the case.