Crime Watch host Ian Alleyne was yesterday ordered to pay a total of $30,000 in fines for airing a video showing the rape of a teenage girl on three separate occasions during his programme.
The video, which was aired on CCN TV6 in October of 2011, showed the rape of a 13-year-old girl, resulting in her identification.
Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar, presiding in the Port of Spain Eighth Court, handed down the sentence shortly before noon yesterday.
However, should Alleyne fail to pay the fines within a two-week period, he could serve up to 72 months in prison. On each of the three charges, he was fined $10,000 or serve 24 months in jail.
Alleyne could have been fined a maximum of $25,000 and imprisoned for up to five years on each of the charges as outlined in Section 32(2) of the Sexual Offences Act under which he was charged.
State prosecutor George Busby, in presenting the case for the State last week, said Alleyne aired the video on October 24 and 25 and later interviewed the girl and her mother in the following days during the programme, causing the girl to be identified.
Ayers-Caesar imposed the sentence despite a plea in mitigation by Alleyne's attorney Om Lalla last week Monday, who had asked that his client be reprimanded and discharged.
Lalla had submitted that should Alleyne be fined or imprisoned, this would negatively affect his ability to travel abroad to visit his family who had to migrate because of the line of work he had chosen and threats they had received.
After sentence was passed, Alleyne told reporters outside the courthouse that he had accepted responsibility for the crimes committed and that he had also accepted the punishment imposed.
"The court has decided and one must respect the decision of the court. What I highlighted on national television was a minor being assaulted and after that, subsequent to airing it, I did get the perpetrator," he said.
Alleyne said in addition to the difficulties he would have to face when venturing out of this country, he would also be negatively affected by the convictions should he choose to pursue a position in any type of public office.
"The fines would have an adverse effect on me to a certain extent with whatever level of office I wish to pursue and whatever ambition I may have for the future," said Alleyne.
Lalla told members of the media: "He has fought very hard to look after people on the ground and to stand up for justice and for what is right. At the end of the day, the perpetrator of this unfortunate incident (the sexual assault of the girl) was brought before the court. This tape was in the police's hands and nothing was done."
Earlier during the hearing, Ayers-Caesar said she had taken several factors into consideration before arriving at her decision.
She said among those factors was the field of work Alleyne has chosen to pursue and the level of success he had achieved. As a result of his job,
Ayers-Caesar said several perpetrators of crimes have been captured, charged and taken before the court.
She added she was of the opinion that some members of the public had lost faith in the Police Service when it came to solving crime and instead saw Alleyne as "a larger than life character" because of his motivation to fight criminals and criminality.
However, Ayers-Caesar said in order to seek justice for those affected by crime, there was a line that one was not allowed to cross. The airing of the video cannot be condoned, even though it led to a suspect being arrested, Ayers-Caesar said.
"Ignorance of the law is no excuse because I am sure the defendant would have had legal advisers before the airing of the video. During the programme, the defendant said he was going to turn around the victim's life and then he went on to air the video.
"There is a message to be sent and that message is that those who embark on this type of work must do so in a responsible manner. To whom much is given, much is expected. The defendant also took steps to have the victim undergo counselling, but what type of counselling could cure the stigma the victim has to face when she comes into contact with her peers?" asked the magistrate before passing sentence.
Alleyne, who is still facing a charge of resisting ASP Ajith Persad in the execution of his duty, first appeared before Ayers-Caesar in April of last year.
He initially pleaded not guilty to all the charges, but two weeks ago, he change his pleas on the sexual offences charges.
On the charge of resisting ASP Persad however, he has maintained his not guilty plea. He will appear in the Port of Spain Fourth (A) Court on May 1, when that matter will come up for hearing.
CCN TV6 is also currently before the court on the three charges contrary to the Section 32(2) of the Sexual Offences Act and an additional six charges contrary to the Telecommunications Act.
The company, which has pleaded not guilty to all nine charges, will reappear before Ayers-Caesar, through its attorneys Sophia Chote SC, Michelle Solomon-Baksh and Trevor Clarke on May 13.