By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A 30-year-old Haitian man has been sentenced to one year in prison after a magistrate rejected his defence to claims he fondled his co-worker after promising to drop her home as “untruthful”.
Loody Loriston avoided the maximum three-year penalty for the incident however he cried loudly and fell to the floor in apparent agony after Magistrate Samuel McKinney delivered his decision yesterday morning. The Tribune understands his attorney, Keevon Maynard, plans to appeal the decision.
Loriston and the woman both work at Warwick Hotel on Paradise Island. Loriston said he started working there in December 2018, but said he has since been suspended due to his court matter. He also has another job at Cleaning Masters, where he has worked for some two years.
According to the evidence summarised by Magistrate Samuel McKinney, the woman reported that on January 25, Loriston offered her a ride home. She said she accepted his offer because at that time of the year, dark falls quickly. She said earlier that day, Loriston had took her to a bank in Palmdale to run an errand.
The woman said while driving to her home, the route Loriston took became concerning to her. She said Loriston drove through many corners that she thought were shortcuts at the time. Nonetheless, she said as she was out of New Providence for six years, the turns made her somewhat disoriented.
She said Loriston eventually brought his car to a stop in front of a residence in an area she was unfamiliar with. She said when she asked him why they were there instead of at her residence on Market Street, Loriston did not answer, and instead fondled her.
The woman said she was able to fight him off, and when she was able to break free from his hold, she opened the car and ran away. She said she ended up at a stranger’s residence where she sought help from the person who lived there, who turned out to be a police officer. It was around 6.20pm by that time.
Her boyfriend was subsequently contacted, who later took her to a police station where she filed a formal complaint.
According to Magistrate McKinney, the officer who the woman got help from confirmed her story. The woman officer said she heard the complainant calling for help, but out of an abundance of caution did not open her door. Instead, the officer said she got a cell number from the woman, called that number and gave the person who answered certain information. Loriston was later arrested and charged with indecent assault.
When he took the witness stand in his defence, and with the aid of a translator, the accused said around noon on the date in question, the woman asked him for a ride home once their shift had completed at 5pm. He said the day prior, he had given her a ride over the Paradise Island bridge to the bus stop.
Loriston said when 5pm arrived, the woman came looking for him. When they both got into his car, she then asked him to do her an additional favour by taking her to a bank in the Mackey Street area, taking her back over to Paradise Island, before dropping her home.
Loriston said he again consented. He said he took her to the bank, where she withdrew some funds, then took her back to Paradise Island for her to drop off the money. At some point, he said the woman used his cellphone to call her cousin to get the money she withdrew. Afterwards, he said they left Paradise Island for the second and final time en-route to her home.
Loriston said as they were driving, he got a call from someone named Finlayson who asked him to pick up some money. According to Loriston, Finlayson is the woman’s ex-boyfriend, who also worked at Warwick Hotel covering the night shift.
He said she consented to going along.
Loriston said when he arrived at Finlayson’s place in the Mackey Street area, and when Finlayson walked out to greet him, the woman abruptly got out of the car and told him that if she knew Loriston was going to see her ex-boyfriend she never would have never gone with him and instead would have gotten off on the corner.
Loriston insisted that the woman told him: “My boyfriend is a police, I’m a Bahamian, and you’re a Haitian. I will deal with that.”
Loriston, in response to questions put to him by Mr Maynard, denied touching the woman, saying, “No, never.” He also said she never complained during the ride.
Loriston also noted that at the time he gave the woman a ride, which was around the 5 o’clock hour, there was a lot of traffic on Mackey Street, so she could have stepped out at any time as opposed to waiting for him to bring the car to a stop.
However, Magistrate McKinney said in order to accept Loriston’s claims, it would mean that the woman was in the area in question for roughly an hour before showing up at the woman officer’s residence. Conversely, the magistrate said the woman’s version of events offered a more “plausible” explanation for the time gap, in that she said Loriston drove her around until she got disoriented.
The magistrate noted that based on a previous ruling - Marlon Henfield vs Commissioner of Police - it is dangerous to convict someone on the evidence of a woman or a girl alone, because sometimes complainants tell entirely false stories that are easy to fabricate but difficult to refute. And according to that ruling, some of those stories are fabricated for all sorts of reasons, and sometimes for no reason at all.
In the present case however, he found the Crown proved its case against Loriston to the requisite standard, and consequently rejected Loriston’s claims.
The magistrate thus said the sentence imposed should reflect the “gravity” of the offence and must serve as a deterrent to others who plan to violate others.