BELIZE CITY, Wed. Mar. 9, 2016–A Belize City man who is serving time for multiple sex offences appealed a 20-year prison sentence handed down by a Supreme Court trial judge after a jury convicted him of carnal knowledge against a six-year-old child in August 2014.
Last Wednesday, the Court of Appeal heard submissions in Appeal #15 of 2014, Brian Charlesworth v. The Queen.
Senior Crown Counsel Cecil Ramirez explained to the three Court of Appeal Justices, Hon. Justice Manuel Sosa, Madam Justice Minnet Hafiz-Betram, and Hon. Justice Murillo Ducill, that Charlesworth, who had served 8 years and 7 months of a 12-year sentence for carnal knowledge, had been released on parole when he committed the second carnal knowledge offense.
Attorney Oscar Selgado, who represented Charlesworth, argued that the 20-year sentence imposed by Justice John “Troadio” Gonzalez was too harsh, and that it would not take 20 years to rehabilitate him.
“If he is to remain in prison for 20 years, it would be an injustice to him,” Selgado submitted.
Justice Manuel Sosa, the president of the Court of Appeal, read the court’s ruling today, as Charlesworth and attorney Kathleen Lewis, who was holding brief for Selgado, listened.
Justice Sosa said, “The appeal against conviction was dismissed and the appeal for leave to appeal against sentence is granted. The application is treated as the appeal, which is allowed.”
“The sentence of 20 years is set aside and we consider that an 18-year term would be appropriate, were it not for the fact that the appellant has been in custody pending trial. We are bound to deduct from that period of 18 years for the shorter period of 1 year and 3 months, rounding off to the nearest month, the time spent in custody on remand for the charge of which he was convicted, and in respect to which he is appealing,” he further stated.
“If you are paying attention,” Justice Sosa continued, “you will know we have not imposed a new sentence.”
“Therefore,” Sosa stated, “the sentence we impose in substitute for the one we have set aside, is one of 16 years and 9 months in imprisonment, to take effect on the expiration of any term he may currently be serving.”
Prison officers who escorted Charlesworth to court were able to assist the court and confirmed that on February 12, 2016, Charlesworth completed the sentence for the first carnal knowledge offence, for which he was granted parole and which he violated when he committed the second carnal knowledge offense.
Charlesworth, therefore, has served approximately one month of the new 16-year, 9-month sentence.
“I hope God has mercy on their souls, because they had no mercy on me for something I did not do,” Charlesworth said after the three Appeal Justices had left the courtroom.
In addition to the two carnal knowledge sentences, Charlesworth had served out a three-year sentence for an aggravated assault of a sexual nature that he received in a summary conviction at the Magistrate’s Court.