-judge says sexual offences against children have reached ‘crisis level’
BEFORE sentencing Mario Heywood called ‘Ratty’, who was convicted of raping a nine-year-old girl, Justice Sandil Kissoon said that sexual offences committed on children are on the increase in Guyana and must be addressed.
The judge, who sits at the Sexual Offences Court of the Demerara High Court, on Wednesday, sentenced Heywood to serve 17 years behind bars for the crime.
Last month, Heywood, 39, of East Ruimveldt, was found guilty of three counts of rape committed on a child under 16 years, between October and November 2018.
The State’s evidence was led by prosecutors Cicela Corbin, Caressa Henry and Marisa Edwards, while attorney-at-law, Damien DaSilva, represented Heywood
According to reports, it is alleged that, during the period mentioned in the charge, the child was left in the care of Heywood. It is alleged that Heywood raped her while her mother was at work.
Heywood reportedly told the child that he would kill her mother if she confided in her relatives.
However, the victim’s mother became aware of what had happened and reported the matter to the police.
In his sentencing remarks, Justice Kissoon said that Heywood was a father figure in the victim’s life and he abused her trust.
He added that such cases have become exceedingly prevalent in Guyana, and that the courts will not tolerate such acts of “evil” being inflicted on innocent children.
“This matter, unfortunately, is one of a series of matters that are indicative of the crisis in our midst, which threatens to engulf single mothers and children with horrendous consequences. The incidence of this type of crime in our society is at the point of crisis,” he said.
He emphasised that it was a tremendous cause for concern and required urgent intervention.
The judge underscored the physical and psychological trauma the victim has had to face due to Heywood’s actions.
He also said that Heywood took advantage of the closeness he shared with the victim and her relatives.
The judge delivered separate sentences for each count. Heywood was sentenced to 15 years on the first count, 17 years on the second count, and 17 years on the final count.
The judge ordered that the sentences run concurrently, which means Heywood will only serve 17 years.
The judge further ordered that Heywood must undergo counselling for sex offenders while in prison.