CCN TV6's Crime Watch host Ian Alleyne was today fined a total of $30,000, or serve 72 months in prison, after pleading guilty to airing a video on three separate occasions during his programme in October of 2011, that showed the rape of a 13-year-old girl.
The sentence was handed down by Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayres-Caesar in the Port of Spain Magistrates' Court, despite an appeal last week by Alleyne's lawyer Om Lalla, that Alleyne not be fined or imprisoned.
Lalla had submitted that Alleyne was not malicious in his intent, and was seeking justice for the girl.
Lalla said that due to the nature of the work being done by Alleyne, his family was living in the United States, and a severe sentence would affect his ability to travel to see his loved ones.
However, State Prosecutor George Busby countered that the offence that Alleyne was guilty of, had caused mental torture to the 13 year old, who, as a result of the airing of the video, was now known to friends, neighbour and members of the public.
In passing sentence today, Magistrate Ayres-Ceasar said that ignorance of the law was no excuse, and the girl would have to live with the stigma, despite efforts to help her.
Under Section 32 (2) of the Sexual Offences Act, it is an offence to reveal the identity of a rape victim. The legislation reads "A person who publishes or broadcasts any matter contrary to subsection 1 is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of twenty-five thousand dollars and to imprisonment for five years."
Alleyne was also charged with resisting arrest but has maintained his not guilty plea.
CNN TV6 is facing the same three charges and six additional charges contrary to the Telecommunications Act. The company has however maintained its not guilty pleas on all nine charges.
When Alleyne reappeared before Chief Magistrate Ayers-Caesar last Monday, Lalla made a plea in mitigation, saying that although Alleyne admitted to broadcasting the video, he did not purposefully identify the girl, and it was the act of an overzealous person reacting to the many cases in which women were being raped and no one was being arrested and prosecuted.
Lalla noted that within 48 hours of the airing of the video, information came to Alleyne and a person was arrested and charged with the rape of the 13 year old. He said the very video was in the hands of police weeks before Alleyne aired it.
Lalla said as a result of the incident, other media houses had reviewed their policy regarding the identification of sexual assault victims.
This morning, Magistrate Ayres-Caesar outlined the factors she considered in arriving at her decision.
She noted that Alleyne, through the work he had chosen, had been able to achieve some level of success by having individuals arrested.
She said she understood Alleyne's motivation, since many in society saw the police as being somewhat ineffective, and the public did not have much confidence in the ability of the police to apprehend perpetrators.
The magistrate commended Alleyne on the work he was doing to have persons arrested, but said that in the pursuit of justice on behalf of crime victims and families, there was a certain line that could not be crossed.
She said that ignorance of the law was no excuse, and she was sure that Alleyne would have had legal advice before airing the video.
She said that under Section 32 (2) of the Sexual Offences Act, community service as a sentence for Alleyne did not apply. Magistrate Ayres-Caesar said she considered Alleyne's previous good character, but stressed that Alleyne needed to be responsible.
She noted that Alleyne had taken steps to have the alleged victim of the rape undergo counseling. However, said the magistrate, no amount of counseling could heal the stigma the girl now had to face when she came into contact with peers.
Alleyne was fined $10,000 for each of the three offences, and given two weeks to pay, or serve 24 months in prison for each offence.
Outside the court, Alleyne said he accepted the decision, but that the sentence would affect any plan for him to run for public office.
Richard Charan- Multimedia Editor