As she sentenced an HIV-infected man to 22 years in jail for raping a five-year-old child, a High Court judge called for steps to be taken to highlight acts of sexual violence.
Conrad Matthias, 61, cried and protested his innocence yesterday as he was led away after being sentenced by Justice Maria Wilson in the San Fernando Third Assizes. He also broke down in tears when he was found guilty by a nine-member jury on November 20.
The assault took place on a date between December 31, 2006 and January 8, 2008, at the man’s home.
Evidence led by State prosecutor Sarah de Silva was that Matthias did not allow the victim to go to the parlour with her mother and his two daughters. He ordered the child into a bedroom where he raped her and refused to stop when the child told him he was hurting her.
The assault lasted about five minutes. When he was finished Matthias told the child to put on her clothes and act like nothing had happened.
Wilson said girls under the age of 14 are vulnerable and need to be protected. She said a strong message has to be sent: “If you commit this offence, expect a custodial sentence.”
The judge referred to American actor Alyssa Milano’s #MeToo online forum where people have been tweeting about incidents of sexual harassment and assault.
“On Facebook there were 12 million posts, comments and reactions in less than 24 hours. Here in Trinidad and Tobago we could take steps to highlight and speak out against sexual violence,” she said.
Wilson called for sexual cases to be fast-tracked to avoid further trauma to the victims and highlighted several aggravating factors in the case before her.
“I cannot begin to imagine the emotional and psychological impact this act had on a five-year-old,” she said.
She said the child in this matter was the youngest victim in the cases she perused and the offence carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The judge found an appropriate starting point was a 25-year sentence but reduced it after considering mitigating factors about the accused, including his age and the fact that he had a clean record.
She ordered that the 279 days he spent in prison while awaiting trial to be deducted from his sentence.