PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Tuesday March 19, 2013 – A magistrate Tuesday slapped a TT$30,000 (One TT dollar = US$0.16 cents) fine on a television host who pleaded guilty to airing a video showing the rape of a 13-year-old girl.
Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayres-Caesar also ruled that Crime Watch television host Ian Alleyne could serve six years in jail if he fails to pay the fine within a two week period.
Earlier this month, Alleyne, who had previously pleaded not guilty to the three charges under the Sexual Offences Act after airing the video in October 2011, changed his plea to guilty, but maintained he was not guilty of resisting arrest.
His attorney Om Lalla had told the court that his client was not malicious in his intent, and was seeking justice for the girl when he aired the video.
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.
But prosecutor George Busby argued that the offence the television host 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 her ruling, 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.
Alleyne had been charged under the Sexual Offences Act that states 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.”
In passing sentence, the magistrate said 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.
But while she commended the television host, she said ignorance of the law was no excuse, and she was certain Alleyne would have had legal advice before airing the video.
She said that under the Sexual Offences Act, community service as a sentence for Alleyne did not apply and considered his previous good character, stressing however that Alleyne needed to be responsible.
The court heard that Alleyne had taken steps to have the alleged rape victim undergo counselling. But the magistrate said no amount of counselling could heal the stigma the girl now had to face when she came into contact with her peers.
Alleyne told reporters he accepted the decision, but that the sentence would affect any plan for him to run for public office.
The Caribbean Communications Networks (CCN) TV, which is a member of the One Caribbean Media Group, is also facing the same three charges and six additional charges contrary to the Telecommunications Act.
The company has however maintained it is not guilty of the offences.