CHIEF JUSTICE, Michael de Ia Bastide, told the Court of Appeal yesterday that the justice system of Trinidad and Tobago is capable of speeding up the hearing of appeals.
The Chief Justice highlighted this yesterday when a 1996 conviction and sentence came up for appeal in the court. Dion Julien, who was convicted of rape in March 1996, appealed his conviction and sentence, had his conviction upheld, but his 20- year sentence was reduced to 10 years.
The Court of Appeal comprising Chief Justice Michael de Ia Bastide and Justices Roger Hamel-Smith and Lloyd Gopeesingh, reduced the sentence of Julien, 23, after his attorney, Martin George, argued five grounds of appeal. Julien, an electrician from Carenage, was found guilty of rape on March 2, 1996, in the Port-of-Spain Assizes.
He was sentenced to 20 years in prison by Justice Melville Baird. Julien was accused of raping a woman in Carenage on June 5, 1988.
Julien was walking the victim home from a party when he raped her. The victim passed out and the accused revived her and then walked her home.
Justice de Ia Bastide, who gave a 50 minute judgment, told the court that there were various aggravating factors in rape, but this case did not contain these factors. However, he noted that the accused was known to the victim and that she trusted him.
He noted that the accused did not abandon the victim and that after his “abominable act” showed some concern. The court then upheld the conviction, but reduced the 20-year sentence by half after seeking the opinion of Senior Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Rangee Dolsingh.
Dolsingh stressed that even though rape was a heinous crime, the circumstances which rapes occurred under, were reflected in the severity of the sentences. He then told the court that the accused’s sentence was too high and so the court reduced the sentence to 10 years in prison with hard labour.