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… rules that the original 23-year sentence was excessive
Calvin Ramcharran, a young man convicted of raping a 20-year-old woman back in July 2012, had his 23-year sentence reduced to 12 years by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on the basis that his original sentence was “manifestly excessive.”
In November 2015, Ramcharran was sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and another three (3) years for causing actual bodily harm, however, the sentences were concurrent. Following an appeal, the Court of Appeal on January 11, 2021 affirmed the decision of the trial judge. However, dissatisfied with the rulings of both the High Court and the Court of Appeal, Ramcharran moved to the CCJ.
At the CCJ, he was represented by Attorneys-at-Law C A Nigel Hughes, Savannah Barnwell and Ronald J Daniels.
Ramcharran contended that the sentences were manifestly excessive and that the judge failed to adequately consider the antecedents of the appellant or any social report or impact statement from the victim. It was also submitted that the Court of Appeal erred in law when it found that although the trial judge did not identify the process by which the penalties were arrived at, the sentences did not warrant any review.
In handing down a decision in the case Calvin Ramcharran v the Director of Public Prosecutions, the CCJ ruled that the sentence for rape was manifestly excessive. The CCJ found that the trial judge failed to hold a separate sentencing hearing, to take a victim impact statement, to obtain mental health or psychological assessments, to obtain a social report and to give reasons for and indicate the process used to arrive at the sentence. It, however, acknowledge that the trial judge did hear a plea in mitigation and did not impose the maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The CCJ also ruled that the Court of Appeal in reviewing the trial judge’s sentence erred in failing to follow the comprehensive guidance for trial judges in respect of sentencing in rape cases in its earlier decision in Pompey v DPP (‘Pompey’).
“The Court was satisfied that because the Court of Appeal failed to be guided by the precedent of Pompey, as it was bound to do, it failed to apply the proper sentencing principles and objectives to the determination of the issue raised by the appeal: whether the sentences were manifestly excessive or wrong in principle. More fully stated, it failed to consider if a different sentence should have been passed,” the CCJ said in a summary of its ruling.
Having found that it had jurisdiction to review the sentences imposed, the CCJ considered the range of starting sentences for rape, as well as the aggravating and mitigating factors and imposed a sentence of 12 years imprisonment. However, with respect to the sentence for assault causing actual bodily harm, the Court found that because the sentence of imprisonment for 3 years for assault is to be served concurrently there is no double punishment for this offence, and it may be left to stand for its demonstrative and deterrent effect.
Based on the facts of the matter, Ramcharran, who was also 20 years-old at the time, attacked the victim while she was attending a party at Calabash Alley, Soesdyke.
According to the court documents, Ramcharran struck the victim with a bottle to her head after she put up a fight and violently removed her clothing before committing the beastly act in the bushes behind an unfinished building. Ramcharran and the victim had attended the same school years prior.