Mon | Dec 6, 2021

Jail time halved for revenge porn convict

Published:Saturday | March 27, 2021 | 12:34 AM

Tanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter

Donovan Powell, who had appealed his 12-month prison sentence and $1 million fine after he posted nude pictures and videos of his ex-girlfriend on the Internet, has been successful in getting his sentence halved.

He will still, however, have to pay the fine.

The Court of Appeal on Wednesday set aside his two 12-month sentences for two counts of malicious communication against American television anchor Darieth Chisolm and replaced them with two-six month sentences.

The sentences are to run concurrently. Therefore, the 56-year-old offender will only be required to serve six months in prison.

According to the complainant, Powell, who had turned to revenge porn after their romantic relationship ended, posted the pictures and videos on a website he had created. The images contained vulgar memes stating that the complainant had a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and had passed it on to Powell.

The complainant had accused Powell of taking the pictures and videos of her without her consent and even while she was sleeping, but Powell claimed someone had given him the photographs.

But Powell, in a social-enquiry report, had claimed that their relationship had soured after he contracted an STI from the complainant and confronted her about it.

Months after, Powell said the complainant sent slanderous pictures to his friends and families which caused him embarrassment and shame. He also claimed that she threatened to expose him on social media and to campaigners of the MeToo crusade against sexual harassment.

As a result, he said he retaliated by sending pictures and messages to her friend and family expressing what she did to him.

Powell was, however, sentenced in 2019 by Judge Jacqueline Wilcott after pleading guilty to breaches of the Cybercrimes Act in the Corporate Area Criminal Court, now called the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court. He appealed the sentence.

His attorney, Valerie Neita-Robertson, QC, had argued that the sentence was excessive, as her client had no previous conviction and had been apologetic and remorseful.

She also posited that he had pleaded guilty and had not wasted the court’s time, which had also saved the complainant the trouble of travelling to Jamaica to testify in a trial. That caveat, Neita-Robinson argued, should have served as grounds for a discount on his sentence based on judicial precedent and sentencing guidelines.

Additionally, Neita-Robertson took issue with the lower court's ignoring of a recommendation from the social-enquiry report for the offender to be given a non-custodial sentence.

The Court of Appeal judges said that the parish judge should not be faulted for not imposing a non-custodial sentence but should have given the offender a discounted sentence.

Further, the judges said the parish judge had indicated that she was aware that some discount was warranted, but failed to state whether, and to what degree, she had applied that measure.

Nevertheless, the judges concluded that “given the fact that the appellant was a first-time offender and pleaded guilty on the first occasion, we find that he should be given the full benefit of a 50 per cent reduction in the sentence,” the judges said.