Rape accused Leroy Deonarine yesterday walked out the courtroom a free man after his accuser said she no longer wanted to proceed with the matter.
The 17-year-old complainant was the first witness to be called to the stand yesterday, when the trial commenced before Justice Franklyn Holder and a 12-member jury at the High Court.
After entering the witness box and providing the court with her name and address, the teen was asked to recount her story to the court.
The young girl who appeared shy, however looked around the courtroom, periodically bending her head, but saying nothing, even after being encouraged by both the prosecutor and the judge.
“Come on…, tell the court what you told me yesterday [Tuesday],” State Counsel Teshana Lake gently requested of the teen.
Justice Holder also told the teen to tell the court her story.
“Don’t be afraid, take your time and tell us your story,” the judge politely encouraged, but to no avail.
The teenager would only glance periodically at the accused and around the courtroom at the jury, prosecutor and judge; but said nothing.
The judge then stood the matter down for five minutes, giving the prosecution an opportunity to consult with the complainant.
Prosecutor Lake spoke with the young lady for some time, before the matter was recalled, after which she again unsuccessfully encouraged her to tell her story.
The teen finally broke her silence to softly say, “I don’t want to tell the story.”
The prosecutor then asked her whether anyone had forced or threatened her, or whether anyone had given, or promised her money not to tell the court her story, to which she responded in the negative.
Prosecutor Lake then asked the girl if she knew that by not telling her story, it would bring an end to the matter, and that the accused would be going home. She said yes.
She also answered in the affirmative when asked if it was she who had made the decision not to relate her story to the court.
In the light of this, the prosecution noted, the state would offer no evidence against Deonarine, who was subsequently set free after the judge directed the jury to formally return a verdict of not guilty. Justice Holder told the jurors that this procedure had to be followed, since the former accused had been placed in their charge after the jury was empanelled.
Justice Holder explained to Deonarine that there was no case for him to answer, as the complainant wanted to end the matter and that neither she nor the prosecution would be offering any evidence against him.
“You are free to go,” Justice Holder told the visibly relieved young man; adding, “Go and behave yourself,” to which he calmly responded, “yes Sir.”
Deonarine was indicted on a charge of rape of a child under 16 years of age.
On Tuesday, the unrepresented young man denied the charge which stated that on February 4, 2012, he engaged in sexual penetration of a girl.
When asked, Deonarine had told the court that he did not have a lawyer, and when asked if he would be representing himself, answered in the affirmative.
The judge had however later adjourned the matter to yesterday morning, allowing the former accused to collect the deposition in preparation for his defence, and an opportunity to retain counsel.