Pastor jailed for raping girl appeals conviction

Andrew Hannibale

Pastor Andrew Hannibal who was earlier this month sentenced to 40 years in jail for raping a 15-year-old girl, has appealed his conviction and sentence, arguing among other things that there were discrepancies in the state’s case against him.

At the conclusion of a trial on February 8, a jury had found Hannibal guilty as charged for raping the young girl, who Justice Sandil Kissoon said was grossly violated in every conceivable way.

He sexually penetrated the young girl between January 29th and January 31st, 2016, in the County of Berbice.

The judge had sentenced the convict to 40 years behind bars, ordering that he serves 30 years before being considered for parole.

Hannibal who is the founder of the Faith Deliverance Ministries located at Rosignol, West Coast Berbice had begged for forgiveness from the victim and her family after his conviction.

“To the victim and her family, I am sorry. I know you are hurt. I pray you forgive me as you go on with your life,” he had said.

In his notice of appeal dated February 13, Hannibal argues that the judge failed to direct the jury on material discrepancies in the evidence led by the prosecution.

He is contending that Justice Kissoon failed to direct the jury that the complainant and the other witnesses gave materially different evidence on a number of facts, including the dimensions of a bed on which the alleged sexual intercourse took place.

He said too that there were discrepancies as to the layout of the room, as well as to what pieces of furniture were in that room where the alleged act is said to have taken place.

Hannibal has taken issue also with what he said are discrepancies of an alleged hole in a fence where the complainant allegedly entered, with that of the distance of that hole from the end of the fence.

According to the appellant, the judge erred in law in allowing opinion evidence to be admitted as to alleged “bed foot marks” in the room.

Among the ten grounds on which he has appealed, the pastor is also arguing that the judge misdirected the jury on the law of corroboration, when he gave directions that the medical certificate corroborated the evidence of the complainant.

As regards a text message which the prosecution said he sent to the complainant on the date of the assault, Hannibal is contending that Justice Kissoon erred in law by allowing that evidence, despite objections from the defence.

He is also contending that the judge failed to direct the jury to disregard the complainant’s evidence of receiving a text message from him, requesting that she visit him even though the prosecution led no evidence of any such text message ever being sent by him.

His contention is that the judge failed to direct the jury on the law regarding discrepancy in evidence.

Pastor Hannibal is of the view that his sentence is unduly severe.

He has argued that the judge’s summing up to the jury was unbalanced, describing it as being “unfair.”

According to him, the judge emphasized the apparent strength of the prosecution’s case but glossed over its weaknesses.

A date is yet to be fixed by the Appellate Court, for the hearing of the appeal.

Hannibal is being represented by attorneys Arudranauth Gossai and Murseline Bacchus.

In his address to the court after his conviction, the tearful pastor had said, “I never knew this day would come, when I would have found myself in such a situation and have to experience such a decision. As a community leader and a pastor for over 29 years, never did I thought this day would come”.

Prosecutor Tuanna Hardy had asked the court to consider that the pastor had breached his position of trust by engaging in repeated acts with the minor, which the judge later declared would not be taken lightly.

Hannibal, of Bennet Dam, Rosignol, had established eight branches of his religious organisation.