Errol De Souza, a 42-year-old father of 12, was yesterday sentenced to a total of 44 years behind bars for two counts of raping a young girl.Two sentences were handed down by Justice Jo-Ann Barlow, who, after referencing the alarming rate at which sexual offences are being committed against children, noted the strong message the court needed to send to potential offenders.
“Enough is enough,” the judge declared.
She underscored the role adults are to play in protecting children as she upbraided De Souza for the position of trust he would have broken in assaulting the young girl.
The judge said that persons who commit such reprehensible acts deserve to be removed from society and placed where they have time for self-assessment and reflection on their actions. De Souza was convicted by a jury late last month but his sentence had been deferred to facilitate the probation report.
In arriving at the sentences, Justice Barlow said she considered them to be appropriate, having regard to aggravating factors yielded from the evidence at trial. On this point, the judge pointed out that after first assaulting the child in 2013, when she 10 years old, and getting “away with it,” De Souza from all indications became emboldened and went on to assault the child yet again a year later when was 11.
From the probation report presented on De Souza, Justice Barlow noted that she also considered that in spite of the jury’s verdict, he refused to accept responsibility for his actions.
On the first count of sexually penetrating the child sometime between January 1st and December 31st, 2013, De Souza was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Meanwhile, on the second count that he committed the offence on the child again on May 3rd, 2014, he was handed a 24-year prison term.
Justice Barlow ordered that the sentences be served consecutively and that the convict be exposed to the necessary counselling provided for sex offenders, which would aid in rehabilitating him before his release.
Referencing a victim impact statement presented to the court on behalf of the child, the judge noted the sadness the young girl still feels and how withdrawn she has become.
In a plea of mitigation on his client’s behalf, defence attorney Ravindra Mohabir had asked the judge to impose the minimum sentence, while advancing, among other things, that De Souza used no violence in the commission of the offences.
Justice Barlow, however, said that she was at a loss as to what counsel meant by this contention, even as she pointed out that the child had been raped more than once. Against this background, the judge said that violence does not always have to involve the use of a stick. What the child would have experienced and would still have to endure emotionally and psychologically for the rest of her life is more than physical violence and nonetheless amounts in itself to violence, the judge said.The judge noted, too, from the evidence presented at trial, the fact that other children had also become embroiled in the charges, which were levelled against the convict.
To Mohabir’s additional contentions that his client was the sole breadwinner of his household and the father of several minor children, Justice Barlow said that the aggravating factors far outweighed those mitigating factors and that they could not be considered by the court.
In his plea for mercy, Mohabir sought to underscore the importance of the role of a father in raising his family and the fact that he would have to be taken away from his children whose ages range from five months to 16 years.
The smallest he said, would especially suffer from not having his father’s involvement in his upbringing. Referring to the probation report, Mohabir said that his client did say that he felt sad and hurt at the charges brought against him, but the judge pointed out that according to the report, he continued to maintain his innocence and had not accepted responsibility for his actions.According to a victim impact statement presented on behalf of the child by her counsellor, the court heard that she was not only saddened by what had happened to her, but that it has caused her to stop trusting people.
She also expressed hope that she would sometime in the future get past those feelings.
De Souza, a farmer/logger, sat expressionless in the prisoner’s dock as the various addresses were being presented to the court. The state’s case was presented by Prosecutor Lisa Cave. The trial proceedings were held in-camera at the Sexual Offences Court of the Georgetown High Court.