by STAFF WRITER
February 22, 2022
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Feb 22, CMC – The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has imposed a 12 year jail term on a Guyanese national, after it found that the original sentence on a charge of rape, had been too excessive.
Calvin Ramcharran had been sentenced to 23 years in jail for the offence of rape and three years imprisonment for the offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, with the sentences to run concurrently.
The Court of Appeal of Guyana affirmed the decision of the trial judge and Ramcharran appealed to the Trinidad-based CCJ, Guyana’s highest court against the sentence alone, after the CCJ had refused him permission to appeal against his convictions.
By a 3-2 majority ruling, the CCJ found that the sentence for rape was manifestly excessive.
The Court considered that the trial judge failed to hold a separate sentencing hearing, take a victim impact statement, obtain mental health or psychological assessments, obtain a social report and give reasons for and indicate the process used to arrive at the sentence.
While the trial judge did hear a plea in mitigation and did not impose the maximum sentence of life imprisonment, the CCJ found that the judge gave no reasons for the sentence imposed.
As a result, the appellate courts could only infer what the trial judge considered in arriving at the sentence. They found that the Court of Appeal made an error in reviewing the trial judge’s sentence. The Court of Appeal failed to follow the comprehensive guidance for trial judges in respect of sentencing in rape cases, provided in an earlier CCJ decision.
The CCJ also considered the range of starting sentences for rape used in other cases, as well as the aggravating and mitigating factors in this case. It found that a sentence of 12 years imprisonment for rape was appropriate.
For assault causing actual bodily harm, the CCJ found that because the three year sentence of imprisonment for assault is to be served concurrently with the rape sentence, it may be left to stand for its demonstrative and deterrent effect.
In a minority finding by the CCJ, two of the five judges agreed that the original sentence for rape was excessive and needed to be reviewed. However, they would have instead imposed a sentence of 16 years imprisonment for rape.