The 40-days jail sentence handed down to Darren Julien for exposing himself to pupils of the Anstey Memorial School in San Fernando, has sparked outrage on social media with citizens saying that the sentence was too light. However, according to criminal attorneys Subhas Panday and Kevin Ratiram, that is the law—the maximum penalty for a person who wilfully and obscenely exposes himself imprisonment is two months imprisonment with hard labour.
Julien, 37, of Upper Hillside and Carib Streets, San Fernando, was sentenced to 40-days with hard labour by Fifth Court Magistrate Kerry Ann Byer last Tuesday. Police said he was out on bail for a similar offence when he committed the act. He was also sentenced by the same magistrate to 60-days in jail with hard labour for stealing a table.
Social media users expressed dissatisfaction with the ruling, questioning how the theft of a table could attract a harsher penalty than a sexual offence.
Ratiram said he understood the emotion, but pointed out that it was not an unreasonable sentence. He explained for the purposes of sentencing, pending matters are not considered, only convictions.
“I don’t know what his antecedent is, if he had any conviction, but when sentencing, one can’t take into account any pending matter. Even if he was out on bail, a magistrate can only take into account conviction in considering sentence.
“If this is the case, then the person will be treated as first time offender for the purpose of sentencing. Forty-days with hard labour is not unreasonable, in the circumstances,” he said.
Panday, who is calling for all criminal laws to be reviewed and adjusted for the punishment to fit the crime, said: “Because the penalty is small some people feel it is okay to do what they want and make a small jail but these small offences graduate to big offences. We have to nip it in the bud.”
Referring to numerous sex crimes which have resulted in homicides, the former minister added: “The society is in such a tense state because the state of crime is so high, we can’t allow the minds of young, impressionable children to be polluted. We have a violent society and what is taking place requires the government to set up a committee to review all of the criminal laws and offences and adjust the punishment to suit the present crime situation that exists in the country.”
SOURCE: www.guardian.co.tt (Yvonne Webb)