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Bus driver appeals “severity” of 25-year jail term for raping schoolgirl

A 44-year-old minibus sentenced to 25 years in prison for raping a 15-year-old schoolgirl has filed an appeal against the severity of his jail term.

In court documents filed by Attorney-at-law Sanjeev Datadin, Inteaz Mohammed stated that he is “wholly dissatisfied with the conviction and sentence of the High Court.”

The rape convict complains that the sentence is “unduly severe and/or harsh” and prays that his conviction and sentence are quashed by the Court of Appeal. The appellate court is yet to set a date for hearing this matter.

On June 14, 2021, a 12-member jury found that between September 1 and 30, 2014, and January 1 and 30, 2015, in the county of Demerara, Mohammed engaged in sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16. Following the conviction, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison by Justice Brassington Reynolds.

In September 2014, Mohammed picked up the young girl from school and thereafter took her to a dark bushy area and raped her. Then in January of the following year, he picked her up from lessons and took her to the same area where he raped her again.

The teenager confided in her brother about what took place and a Police report was subsequently made. As a result, Mohammed was arrested and charged with two counts of child rape.

In a statement, the victim expressed that she does not forgive Mohammed for what he has done to her. She said that due to the abuse, she is unable to trust another person and is finding it difficult to sleep as she is haunted by memories of the incident.

As such,  the victim asked that Mohammed be given the maximum penalty.

For his part, Mohammed told the court, “I am asking this court to be lenient on me. I have been accused wrongfully. I have a daughter [who is] 16-years-old and she would be punished more than me. I came with one thing in mind to prove my innocence. I didn’t commit this act.”

Meanwhile, Justice Reynolds in his sentencing remarks told Mohammed that he preyed on the young girl in a predatory manner and betrayed her trust. The Judge pointed out that the courts have taken notice of the appalling conduct of minibus and taxi operators who are left to transport children to and from school.

“… drivers who continue to consider schoolgirls who travel in their busses and cars to go to school as theirs for the taking,” Justice Reynolds said, adding that the courts “must continue to set its faces against such behaviour.”

Having considered his age, domestic circumstances, the fact that he is a first-time offender, and other determinants, the High Court Judge sentenced Mohammed to 25 years’ imprisonment on each of the two counts of rape. The sentences will run concurrently.

Mohamed was tried for the offence at the High Court in Demerara.