ST. VINCENT-Former police officer jailed for having sex with minor

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A High Court judge Friday sentenced a former police officer to 45 year in jail after he was found guilty last month of having sex with a 12-year-old girl to whom he had given a ring and a cell phone.

But, 32-year-old Eugene Noel, who maintains his innocence, will only serve 30 years in jail as some of the sentences will run concurrently.

“I am very disappointed personally with the conviction and I am here to tell the public…I am going to appeal my matter before the Appeal Court… prior to that I will be making an application for a stay of the sentence and conviction,” Noel told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) as he was being led away from the court.

“I am innocent of this matter and I have to prove it,” he added.

Justice Brian Cottle imposed the jail term on Noel during a sentencing hearing in which the convicted man challenged his conviction and accused the jury of not considering all the facts in the case.

He continued to deny the child’s claim and told the court of his practices during sex, saying that they differ significantly from the girl’s account.

Noel also used the sentencing hearing to attack the media, saying that media reports after his conviction had referred to past accusations against him of similar nature.

“These things can cause great public alarm,” he said, adding that that had been the case with the Morgans, three members of a religious family who were jailed this year for dousing a man with hot liquid in 2016.

Noel told the court that he does not think that he should have been charged for the offences, which the crown successfully argued that he committed during the period January 13 to February 14 in 2014.

A nine-member jury returned a guilty verdict in November and the trial saw the use of a provision under the Witness Special Measures Act, which prevented Noel, who represented himself, from cross-examining the virtual complainant directly.

Instead, the cross examination was done by a lawyer hired by the state to perform this duty on his behalf.

The court heard that Eugene was involved in a “relationship” with the child, a secondary school student, who he befriended after meeting her on the street.

According to the evidence, Noel and the schoolgirl boarded the same bus and kissed her during the journey after that first encounter.

He placed a ring on her finger and went to her school the first day of the following school term.

On that day, January 13, 2014, he took the girl to the restroom of a nearby restaurant and had unprotected sex with her,  her first sexual encounter, and sometime after, he went back to the school and attempted to take her to the restroom of the same restaurant but this time, the child refused.

He took away the ring from the child and gave her a cellular phone to remain in contact with him.

The court heard he had sex with the child on three other occasions including on his birthday, on February 3, 2014, when he invited her to spend the day with him at a house.

Police arrested Noel after he turned up to the girl’s school in response to a letter that the school’s principal had given the child to take home to her parents.

In handing down the sentence, Justice Cottle said the facts of the case put Noel’s crimes at such a level that he would begin with a notional sentence of 20 years on the first count of the indictment.

The judge said he would not add any time for the aggravating factors and would not deduct any for the mitigating.

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