Appeal Court quashes 'unsafe' conviction of man accused of rape
The Court of Appeal has quashed the conviction and set aside the 12-year prison sentence of a Westmoreland man accused of sexually assaulting his girlfriend’s sister at knifepoint.
In a decision handed down last Monday the court said, “in the interest of justice” Kenyatha Brown should get a new trial. The court further ordered that the new trial should take place during the next sitting of the Westmoreland Circuit Court.
Brown was convicted of rape and sentenced to 12 years in prison in the Westmoreland Circuit Court in 2014.
It came three years after his girlfriend’s sister complained to police that he held her down inside his car with a ratchet knife pressed to her throat.
According to the complainant, Brown then stripped off her clothes below the waist and had sexual intercourse with her without her consent.
Attorney-at-law Donald Reece, who represented Brown before the Appeal Court, raised questions about the competence of the attorney who represented the Westmoreland man during his rape trial.
Reece pointed out that Brown’s instruction to his trial attorney was that he and the complainant had consensual sex and that she complained of rape after he failed to give her $6,000 as promised.
Reece argued that this was never put to the complainant during the trial and described this as “a serious departure from the proper standards of advocacy.”
As a result, he argued that Brown “had been severely prejudiced and the conviction was therefore unsafe.”
The Court of Appeal, in its decision, noted that the concern was not really with “the degree of ineptitude of the conduct of counsel (the trial attorney)”, but with the “impact of that ineptitude on the appellant's (Brown’s) defence, and as a consequence, on the fairness of the trial process.”
According to the court: “There was, in the instant case, simply no effort whatsoever to put forward specifically the essence or substance of the appellant's defence, which, as indicated, was consensual intercourse with a promise to pay certain sums, which promise was unfulfilled resulting in the charge of rape.
“The process was therefore unfair. A miscarriage of justice would have occurred. The conviction would be unsafe and must be quashed,” it ruled.