Guilty on all counts - Woman to be sentenced for forcing 12-year-old into prostitution
With eight human-trafficking cases on the list of matters outstanding to be tried, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn has welcomed the completion of the trial into one such matter.
In the completed case, a woman who forced a 12-year-old girl into a life of prostitution has been convicted by a Home Circuit Court jury and is to be sentenced on April 8.
Nadine Pitt, 32, shopkeeper of Lawrence Tavern, St Andrew, was convicted last week of two counts of trafficking in persons, two counts of cruelty to a child, and two counts of living off the earnings of prostitution.
Pitt was charged in 2009 but the case dragged on in the court for various reasons. She was on bail pending her trial but has been remanded for sentencing.
She was charged under the Child Care and Protection Act in relation to human trafficking, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. The maximum sentence for cruelty to a child is five years while two years is the maximum sentence for the other offences.
The complainant, who is now 22 years old and the mother of three children, testified before Justice Lorna Shelly-Williams and the seven-member jury that she left her home in the hills of St Andrew in 2005 when she was 12 years old to live with Pitt.
She described to the court how Pitt dressed her in mini skirts and took her to clubs, bars and parties. She said Pitt gave her alcohol to drink and marijuana to smoke.
When they left those night spots, she said Pitt would collect $500 each from men as a deposit for her (the complainant) to have sexual intercourse with them. She said after her ordeals, the men paid her and Pitt would collect half of what she earned.
According to the complainant, she was engaged in sexual acts at different places and sometimes at Pitt's house.
In 2007, when the complainant was pregnant, she went to the police to report a dispute between her and her boyfriend, who she said had met through the accused.
The police realised she was a child and when questioned she told them that it was when she was living with Pitt she met him. She disclosed to the police that Pitt had forced her into a life of prostitution.
The cops conducted investi-gations into the report and discovered that Pitt had the complainant in her care and custody and sexually exploited her. Pitt was arrested and charged.
Pitt, who is being represented by attorney at law Carol DaCosta, gave an unsworn statement from the dock and denied the allegations.
According to Pitt, the complainant's father was very strict and she wanted to be free so she came to live with her. She said all the activities that the complainant was engaged in, she did them it on her own.
The jury found Pitt guilty of all the charges. The complainant is now living with her father.
Following the end of the trial last week, Llewellyn told The Sunday Gleaner that human trafficking is a very serious offence and could be termed modern-day slavery.
According to Llewellyn, given the sensitivity of these cases which are victim-centred, special training has been given to her staff to assist them to prosecute them.
Llewellyn extended commend-ations to Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Sahai Whittinghan for the successful prosecution of the case, and argued that human trafficking cases were not easy to prosecute.
The DPP told The Sunday Gleaner that there are about eight other human-trafficking cases on the court list but it is challenging in getting court spaces to try them.
She said the challenge stems from the 500 cases on the Home Circuit Court list and the fact that there are only four criminal courts.