A young woman was sexually assaulted by a male police officer who encountered the woman while he was picking fruit behind her house. The officer followed the woman into her home, where he exposed his genitals and attempted to penetrate the woman’s vagina despite her resistance. Afterwards, the woman successfully identified him in an identification parade and he was subsequently charged with the offences of assault with intent to rape and indecent assault, for which he was convicted at trial and sentenced to nine months hard labor imprisonment. At sentencing, the trial judge found that the aggravating nature of the sexual offence outweighed the defendant’s mitigating circumstances, such as his status as a police officer. The officer appealed the sentence on the ground, inter alia, that his sentence was manifestly excessive and ought to have been non-custodial. The Court of Appeal dismissed the officer’s appeal because it agreed with the trial judge’s balancing approach, and noted that the maximum penalty that could have been imposed was three years of hard labor imprisonment. Moreover, the Court agreed with the trial judge’s statement that to a impose a non-custodial sentence for a case of sexual assault against a woman would send a wrong signal to both members of the police force and the general population in a society, such as Jamaica, where gender-based violence is prevalent.
Jerome Arscott v. R