Absent convict gets life sentence for child rape

In his absence, Ganesh Chaitram, who was charged with raping a 10-year-old girl in 2016, was yesterday sentenced to life in prison after a jury found him guilty of the crime.

Chaitram, 38, who had attended all of his hearings up until Thursday afternoon, was a no-show when the matter was again called yesterday morning for commencement of the trial judge’s summing-up at the High Court in Georgetown.

The summing up was initially set for Thursday afternoon, after closing addresses had been presented by both the prosecution and defence in the morning. When the matter was about to be reconvened, however, Chaitram, who was on bail, was nowhere to be found. When asked, his attorney, Beulah Williams, could not account for his absence.

In the circumstances, Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall adjourned the matter until yesterday morning in a bid to ascertain the man’s whereabouts.

The convict’s wife, who was present at the hearings on Thursday and yesterday, was questioned by the court as to her husband’s whereabouts but she said she did not know. According to her, she too had last seen him after the closing addresses on Thursday morning.

As the law allows, Justice Morris-Ramlall proceeded in Chaitram’s absence and after summing-up yesterday morning, she handed the case over to the jury. The jury found Chaitram guilty as charged, after about two hours of deliberations.

Chaitram, of Mosquito Hall, Mahaica, was charged with raping the child sometime between May 1st and May 31st of 2016.

Despite the man’s absence, Williams made a plea of mitigation on his behalf, telling the court that he was sorry and that he wanted to “live a straight life” if given the chance.

This, she said, was gleaned from discussions she had with the father of four. “From my discussions with him, he is remorseful. He is sorry and will, if allowed, live a straight life and take care of his family,” the lawyer said.

According to Williams, her client was “very distraught” and placed himself at the court’s mercy.

Saffina Campbell, of the Child Care and Protection Agency, read to the court a victim impact statement, which she said conveyed the pain and anger the young girl still feels since the assault.

Campbell said she asked the child whether she would attend yesterday’s hearing but she declined, citing anger as her reason.

From the statement read, the court heard of the young girl relating that while her life has been a challenging one from a tender age, she discovered that she had not faced the worst of things until being sexually abused.

The court heard further of the anger expressed by the young girl, who said that her mother never believed her after she related what Chaitram had done. “Mom put him over me. She did not believe me,” Campbell read.

The young girl, according to the statement, related being a “prisoner to my pain and anger. I want him to suffer, like I suffer, and be embarrassed like he embarrassed me. I am talking the truth.”

“He is evil and should not walk free,” the child was further quoted as saying.

Prior to imposing sentence, Justice Morris-Ramlall said she had considered the nature and circumstances under which the offence was committed.

The judge recalled from the trial the manner in which the assault occurred and stated that the then 10-year-old was awakened by the convict in the dead of night, and had to endure repulsive acts committed by him.

In imposing the life sentence on Chaitram, Justice Morris-Ramlall ordered that 45 years be spent before he is eligible for parole.

Prosecutors Shawnette Austin, Orinthia Schmidt and Seeta Bishundial presented the state’s case at the trial, which was held in-camera.

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