2664623

A former police officer has lost his appeal over being convicted of raping a 17-year-old girl at the San Fernando Police Station, almost two decades ago.

Delivering a 50-page judgement at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain, yesterday morning, Appellate Judges Prakash Moosai, Mark Mohammed and Judith Jones upheld former acting Sgt Harry Ramlochan’s conviction and the 17-year prison sentence he received.

Before being led out of the court by police officers, Ramlochan turned around and spoke briefly with a large group of his relatives and friends, who were seated in the public gallery.

“Try and stay strong. I will do what I can,” Ramlochan was heard saying to his teary-eyed support team.

Ramlochan’s main ground of appeal was over the decision of the High Court Judge, who presided over his trial in 2017, to admit evidence of semen being found on a piece of sponge, which the victim claimed that she was raped on.

While all three judges agreed that the judge’s instructions to the jury on how to consider the evidence was inadequate, Mohammed disagreed with his colleagues on whether it should have been allowed and its effect on the outcome of the case.

“In my view, no subsequent direction given by the judge could have cured the prejudice which accrued to the appellant as a result of the evidence of the spermatozoa being admitted,” Mohammed said, in his dissenting judgement.

Moosai and Jones did not have issues with the evidence being admitted but suggested that the judge should have been more careful to give warnings over the weight that should be attached as there was no DNA testing linking Ramlochan to the bodily fluids on the sponge.

“We are satisfied that despite the judge’s failure to properly direct the jury on the use to be made of the evidence of human spermatozoa on the piece of sponge, no substantial miscarriage of justice has actually occurred,” Moosai and Jones said.

According to the evidence presented during his trial, Ramlochan, a former police prosecutor, met the victim on May 5, 2001, after she and her mother came to the station to make a domestic abuse report against her father.

After taking the report from the mother, Ramlochan allegedly told her to leave as he took a report from the teenager.

Ramlochan allegedly made her mother wait outside the station as he took her to the dormitory of the station where he asked her if she ever had sex. She told him no and that she was waiting until marriage.

She said Ramlochan tried to hug and kiss her but she pulled away. He then offered her a drink of rum, which she also refused.

He then pushed her against a filing cabinet and began to forcibly kiss her, biting her lower lip in the process.

He then pushed her on a piece of sponge and raped her on top of it. He dropped the victim and her mother home afterward.

When the victim’s mother stopped to buy chickens, Ramlochan stayed in the car with her and attempted to touch her vagina as he told her to come to see him at the station again.

The victim reported the incident a week later after she began experiencing medical complications whilst at school.

Ramlochan testified in his defence and denied any wrongdoing. He claimed that when she arrived at the station her lip was already swollen as she admitted that she intervened while her father was attacking her mother and he slapped her on her mouth.

He also brought his own medical expert to challenge the evidence of the State’s witness, who claimed that her hymen had been “recently ruptured” when he examined her.

Ramlochan was represented by Rajiv Persad and Christophe Rodriguez, while Travers Sinanan appeared for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).