Two jailed for ‘indecent’ acts against children

By Rickie Ramdass

A British national is one of two men who were sent to prison yesterday for committing the act of serious indecency on two children.

The British man, 67-year-old Derek Ide, was sentenced by Magistrate Maureen Baboolal-Gafoor to three years and four months hard labour for performing oral sex on a ten-year-old boy, while Rodney St Bernard was sentenced to two years and 11 months by Justice Devan Rampersad at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain.

Before passing sentence, Rampersad said one of the nation’s duties was to protect its children from sexual predators.

“Children need protection. That is the message this court has to send and that is the message this court will send,” said Rampersad.

St Bernard, 45, of Red Hill, Morvant, was charged with carrying out the act against a 16-year-old girl in 2001.

On February 14, 2001, the girl had gone to the Junior Soca Monarch in Port of Spain with some of her classmates and teachers, the State said.

After the show, she and some of her friends were seeking transportation home when the girl saw St Bernard, a taxi driver whom she knew.

All four girls went into the vehicle and after dropping off the other three girls at their homes, St Bernard asked his victim to sit in the front seat of his car. 

She agreed and after reaching a lonely area, St Bernard stopped his vehicle and told the girl he was going to urinate at the side of the road and that she could watch.

After returning to the vehicle, St Bernard took the girl’s hand and placed it on his groin area. The girl pulled away her hand but St Bernard again grabbed her hand and placed it back.

After dropping her home, St Bernard told the girl to check if any of her relatives were at home so that he could enter the house and have sex.

The girl saw her uncle and informed him of the incident and a report was made to police, who arrested St Bernard the following day.

In his mitigation plea, defence attorney Fulton Wilson said despite the charge being a serious one, he asked the court to take into consideration that no violence was used.

The attorney said his client was a father of two and the girl’s body was not violated. He asked that St Bernard be placed on bond.

State attorney Brent Winter however, said the suitable sentence was three years hard labour. He along with attorney Ravita Persad prosecuted the case.

In passing sentence, Rampersad said trust was placed in St Bernard as he was known to the girl and her family.

“You were a grown man. You knew the victim. Trust was put in you and you took advantage of a young girl, only 16 years old. These experiences suffered by young people have a psychological effect,” said Rampersad.

In the other matter, Baboolal-Gafoor also stressed that children needed protection from sexual predators before sentencing Ide. He was charged with performing oral sex on the boy in April of this year and pleaded guilty to the offence three weeks ago.

The magistrate said such offences were prevalent in society and that the court must send a message that such crimes against the most vulnerable of our society, our children, will not be tolerated.

Ide was represented by attorney Sean Cazabon, while George Busby prosecuted for the State.

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