Dwight Bethel outside court.
By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A JUDGE will determine in two weeks the fate of a man convicted of unlawful sexual intercourse with an underage girl whom he compelled to get an abortion after discovering she was pregnant.
Justice Vera Watkins informed convict Dwight Bethel, 41, of the adjournment after prosecutor Algernon Allen II urged the court to protect the children of the Bahamas by imposing no less than 14 years imprisonment for the crimes committed between 2008 and 2013.
Yesterday’s proceedings saw Mr Allen II give a response to submissions made by defence lawyer Stanley Rolle who, on Monday, asked the court to consider imposing a three-year probation for his client.
Mr Rolle said if the court would not consider this, then imprisonment for no more than seven years was sufficient given that this was Bethel’s first sexual offence.
He asked the court to bear in mind Bethel’s previous good character up until the conviction and the account of probation officer Kermit Harris-Smith, who gave every indication that his client was redeemable.
However yesterday, the prosecutor asked the court to consider the seriousness of the case and that the offence would likely scar the victim for life.
He further emphasised that Bethel was not only unanimously convicted of two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, but also of abetment to an abortion.
He urged the court to guide itself with the Court of Appeal’s decision in the matter of Albert Alexander Whyley, whose life imprisonment for sex with a 9-year-old girl was reduced to 30 years in jail.
Mr Allen II echoed the sentiments of appellate president Justice Anita Allen, who, in giving the court’s ruling, said: “We owe it to the children of the Bahamas to protect them from people who prey on them and have sexual intercourse with them at the age of nine.”
Justice Watkins said she will make a decision on February 26.
At trial, Bethel denied the accusations when interviewed in police custody and during his testimony. However, the jury believed the complainant’s testimony that Bethel began molesting her in 2008 when she was 11.
Now a teenager, she said she never told her mother what was happening because she was afraid. The teen said she told Bethel she was carrying his child in June 2013 and he took her to a clinic four months later to terminate the pregnancy.
However, the operation was halted by her mother’s calls inquiring as to her whereabouts. As a result, she had to pass the foetus at home and wrapped it up in a plastic bag as directed by Bethel before he came to collect it.
The alleged abuse was revealed and reported to police later that day, when the girl’s mother took her to the Princess Margaret Hospital, where she was diagnosed and treated for an incomplete septic abortion.