Wesley Carlos Payne, called “Piggy,” was yesterday afternoon found not guilty of the rape of a nurse at the Wismar Hospital in 2008.
After about two hours of deliberations, a 12-member jury emerged with a unanimous not guilty verdict.
Justice Navindra Singh, who presided over the trial, admonished the visibly relieved Payne to behave himself, in light of his several previous brushes with the law. “Good luck,” the judge told the former accused, who thereafter calmly walked out the courtroom after his handcuffs were unlocked.
The charge against Payne, who had always maintained his innocence, stated that on September 10, 2008, he sexually penetrated the nurse without her consent.
He was also accused of robbing the nurse and one of her female co-workers of their cell phones, jewellery, a hand bag, and DVD player during the attack.
Payne, 45, of 17 Section ‘C’ Christianburg, Wismar, Linden, was also acquitted of these charges.
When called upon to lead his defence, Payne, who was unrepresented by counsel, testified under oath last Thursday and remained adamant that he was innocent of the charges.
Vehemently denying the allegations levelled against him, Payne asserted that he was being victimised by the police, whom he said trumped-up the charges.
During the trial, which was heard in open court, the nurse who was allegedly raped recounted the attack. She recalled reporting for duty on the night in question, to work the 11 to 7 shift, when she heard a knocking on the door of the casualty ward, in which she, her colleague and two patients were.
Believing it to be a patient seeking medical attention, the nurse had said she proceeded to open the door, but after being greeted by a shirtless man who had his face concealed, she immediately tried to close the door. She was overpowered by him and he forced his way in.
The court heard from the nurse that the man, who had an object concealed under a jersey in his hand, ordered her and her colleague to another ward, where he placed them to lie face down on the floor, before raping her.
The nurse said that apart from herself, colleague and the two patients, no one else was in the hospital at the time.
The other nurse on duty that night corroborated her colleague’s account of what had transpired. Noting that she too only saw the man’s eyes, the woman was adamant that she clearly remembers his voice. Both women said the voice of their attacker sounded like that of the accused.
Former police officer Simon Benjamin, who recalled taking a caution statement from the accused, had said that items which were stolen from the nurses on the night in question were recovered from the accused, and another person, to whom he had directed lawmen.
Benjamin said that at the time he contacted Payne, who was shirtless at the Mackenzie Police station, he observed several black spots on his chest, which appeared to be dried sores.
Both nurses had told the court, in their respective testimonies that the shirtless man who attacked them had a number of black spots, which looked like dried sores, on his chest.
Benjamin said Payne had told him that he had been asked by a person to do him a favour by going to the hospital and raping the nurse, whose description she had given to him.
According to the caution statement of the former accused, which was admitted in evidence, he had told the police that the person had related to him that she had a grievance with that particular nurse and wanted her to be raped. In exchange for raping the nurse, the court heard from the statement, the person would have written off a $20,000 debt for the accused.
Benjamin, however, said that investigations into Payne’s story about being hired to commit the crime had no merit. He said that both the person he had named and the nurse who was raped were interviewed, and both said that there was no problem between them.
In his defence, Payne had argued that at no time did he ever give the police any statement.
Disputing the testimony that it was he who committed the offence, Payne advanced that he had tattoos which the nurses ought to have seen, had it truly been him who carried out the attack.
When asked under cross-examination if she saw any tattoos on the person who raped her, the nurse had told Payne no.
After being granted permission by the judge to remove his shirt, Payne directed the nurse’s attention to a tattoo on his chest, bearing the letters “YNVME.” She said that once the letters were big and colourful, she would have seen them.
The former accused had also put it to Benjamin that he had those tattoo marks when he met him at the police station. The witness was, however, adamant that Payne did not have the tattoo on his chest at the time and suggested that he must have had them inscribed, sometime after, in prison.
The court had facilitated Payne’s request to have his penal records from the first time he was incarcerated, in 1997, for other charges, to substantiate his claim that he had always had the tattoo.
When Principal Prison Officer One Brendon Niles appeared with Payne’s files, however, the records in his possession only pertained to the rape case. An irate Payne then enquired from Niles the reason for him not
producing all the records he had requested.
When the judge asked about Payne’s other files, Niles said that he could not find them.
In his address to the jury, the unrepresented Payne said that the prison never gets rid of prisoner’s files and he suggested that because it would have been a somewhat tedious task to locate them, Niles may not have conducted a thorough search.
When Niles had been asked by the judge whether the prison discards such files, he said no.
The trial commenced last Wednesday at the High Court in Georgetown.
After a number of appearances in a Magistrate’s Court in 2008, Payne was granted $150,000 bail, but shortly after found himself back behind bars after his bail was revoked by his bailer.
He remained imprisoned until his release yesterday.
During his incarceration, he served sentences for a number of unrelated convictions. The last of those sentences concluded in 2015.
On September 17, 2008, George Yearwood was sentenced to a total of nine years in prison after pleading guilty to charges stemming from the attack on the nurses and other unrelated charges.
Yearwood was said to be keeping watch as the nurses were attacked by Payne.
After the alleged attack and rape, nurses in the mining town had resorted to strike action amidst widespread tensions as they protested the lack of adequate security at the two hospitals there.