FANS of TV6's Crime Watch host Ian Alleyne gathered outside the Port of Spain Magistrates' Court in their numbers yesterday to show support for the television personality after he reappeared in court on four criminal charges.
Alleyne was scheduled to have been sentenced by Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar after he pleaded guilty last week to three of the charges contrary to the Sexual Offences Act.
However, a sentence was not passed as Ayers-Caesar proceeded to adjourn the matter to later this month after listening to submissions by both the prosecution and defence in the matter.
Alleyne had initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, but last week Wednesday, he adopted the new course of action.
He faces an additional charge of resisting ASP Ajith Persad in the execution of his duties. On that charge, Alleyne has maintained his not guilty plead.
The charges came after Alleyne aired a video during his programme on three separate occasions in October of 2011, showing the rape of a 13-year-old girl.
Following the adjournment of the matter, Alleyne, together with his attorney Om Lalla, emerged from the courthouse and was mobbed by fans, some of whom presented him with gifts in celebration of his birthday yesterday.
Chants of "happy birthday Ian" echoed along St Vincent Street where the court is located. From as early as 8.30 a.m., the crowd started to gather and slowly but steadily grew as time went by.
Shortly after 10 a.m., Alleyne walked into the Eighth Court before Ayers-Caesar. Present in court during the hearing were mainly police officers, attorneys and members of the media.
Senior State prosecutor George Busby presented the State's case, saying Alleyne showed the video during the 6 p.m., and 10.30 p.m. Crime Watch programmes on October 24 and again during the 6 p.m. programme the following day.
He further submitted that in the two days to follow, Alleyne interviewed the girl's mother on-air, but despite her back facing the camera, one side of the woman's face was shown making her identifiable.
This was also done with the rape victim. The girl was also have said to be in her school uniform during the interview, making her easily identifiable, said Busby.
During his mitigation plea, Lalla told the court Alleyne accepted that he had broken the law by airing the video but noted that this was not done out of malice in any way toward the girl or her family.
He said Alleyne aired the video with the hope that someone would be able to identify the girl's attacker and as such have him arrested and prosecuted.
Lalla said just over 48 hours after the video was first broadcast, Alleyne had received information which led to the arrest of a suspect.
"The thing is, the police had possession of the video weeks before it was handed over to Mr Alleyne and nothing was done. Never was there any intention to cause any malice. He simply wanted to assist in finding the perpetrator of the rape.
"The strength of his guilt comes from him being over-zealous," said Lalla.
He said there were many instances where women and girls were raped and no one was arrested and charged.
The attorney added that the incident served as somewhat of a deterrent to such broadcasts taking place in the future as it had resulted in media houses reviewing their policies regarding the identification of sexual assault victims.
Also, both Alleyne and his family members have been receiving "very serious threats", causing Alleyne to have his relatives reside out of this country in order to preserve their safety, said Lalla.
He added that Alleyne would usually have to visit his family abroad and if a fine was imposed or he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment, his ability to go abroad would be affected.
Lalla asked that Alleyne be reprimanded and discharged.
In turn, Busby said the airing of the video was not the main issue, but the effect it had and still has on the life of the girl.
"The mischief is not the airing of the video, the mischief is that this young girl has to suffer the embarrassment of having her family, her friends, neighbours and teachers knowing that she was a rape victim," said Busby.
The prosecutor said he was also "sick and tired" of attorneys arguing that their client's travel documents could be taken away.
Alleyne is charged under Section 32(2) of the Sexual Offences Act. Under the Act, he can be sentenced to up to five years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of up to $25,000 on each charge.
CCN TV6 is also facing the same three charges contrary to Section 32(2) of the Sexual Offences Act and an additional six charges contrary to the Telecommunications Act.
The company has maintained its not guilty pleas on all nine charges.
The matter will resume next Tuesday (March 19) when Ayers-Caesar is expected to hand down sentence.