By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MAN convicted of the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl entrusted to his wife’s care will serve ten years in jail, a judge ruled yesterday.
Joseph Foulkes, 51, appeared stoic when the jury’s foreman announced the 7-2 guilty verdict the jury arrived at after three hours of deliberating two day’s of evidence. The crime took place some time between January 1 and June 30, 2012.
Foulkes remained expressionless when Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs said he would impose a ten-year sentence, being of the view that the case did not warrant the maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
“Your honour can I appeal it?” asked the Village Road resident.
“Of course, talk to your lawyer. You have a right to appeal, you don’t have to ask permission,” Senior Justice Isaacs said.
Foulkes, who was previously on $9,500 bail, was led away by police officers to await the prison bus after the verdict.
Foulkes had pleaded not guilty to the single count of unlawful sexual intercourse with which he was charged.
At trial, the girl testified that on a Sunday morning during the period in question, she was at her guardian’s house, a normal practice for her on weekends.
The accused had taken his wife, who was her guardian, to work before returning to the house to inform his son that he was going to take him to church.
When he returned from taking the child to church, he came into the bedroom where the victim was watching television and sat on the bed before putting his hand on her chest, the girl testified.
When she looked into his eyes as instructed, he threatened to kill her if she told anyone about his actions. She told the court that she was asked to disrobe and that her alleged attacker instructed her to bend over near the dresser. He then proceeded to have sex with her for five to 10 minutes.
She declined to immediately report the sexual assault because she was threatened and did not want to ruin her good relationship with the wife of her attacker, she told the court.
She admitted that Foulkes had never been inappropriate with her on previous occasions when she was alone with him.
Foulkes’ wife testified that her husband could not have molested the girl because she had never housed the girl on weekends in 2012, the year in which the sexual assault is alleged to have occurred.
Dr Yolanda Griffin-Jones, who had examined the girl in February 2013, revealed that the girl’s hymen was not intact.
When cross-examined, she admitted that she would have been able to obtain “hardcore evidence” from the examination if it had been done within 72 hours of the alleged incident, instead of nearly a year later.
In yesterday’s closing addresses to the jury, Foulkes’ lawyer Bernard Ferguson told the panel that the evidence from Crown witnesses revealed to him that the allegation was merely the result a feud between two parties and the complainant and his client were pulled into it.
“We have a situation where one is angry with the other and the anger continued on for years,” he said.
Mr Ferguson added that his client had maintained from the beginning that he did nothing wrong and went into the Central Detective Unit on his own volition.
The lawyer advised the jury to find that his client did not commit the crime.
Prosecutor Darell Taylor had an opposing view.
“What I heard coming from the witnesses is a betrayal of trust,” Ms Taylor said, adding, “it’s understandable why a mother would be so angry.”
“We, the Crown, agree that something went wrong to cause a rift. What we submit went wrong is that Mr Joseph Foulkes had sexual intercourse with the complainant,” the prosecutor added, inviting the jury to convict him accordingly.
Following the closing addresses, Senior Justice Isaacs summarised the evidence of the five Crown witnesses in the case.
He also reminded the jury to understand that Foulkes’ choosing to remain silent was not an indication of guilt because the burden of proof of the case lies with the prosecution. He had the legal right not to call witnesses or give sworn testimony, the judge said.
The jury left to deliberate at 12.30pm and returned to the courtroom at 3.55pm, announcing a 7-2 guilty verdict.
The complainant, seated in the back of court, was embraced by her mother while Foulkes was silent in the prisoner’s dock.
His lawyer said he was at a “loss for words” and asked the judge for a moment to speak with his client before giving a plea in mitigation on behalf of Foulkes.
“The jury would have heard all of the evidence and they ultimately made their decision and now he’s in the court’s hands,” said Mr Ferguson, adding, “it’s a very unfortunate situation.”
Mr Ferguson concluded that he would respect the jury system and accept the verdict.
Senior Justice Isaacs later told the convict the case was a “sad” one.
“You’re a married man with a child of your own,” the judge said. “You’re 51 years old. It’s an unenviable situation. The ultimate penalty for this offence is life imprisonment. I do believe that this is reserved for a repeat offender and in this case, it seems to be an isolated incident.”