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Man sentenced to eight years on four counts of sexual assault on two minors | 30 September 2019

The Supreme Court of Seychelles on Thursday sentenced a convict, identified as PD, to 8 years imprisonment on four counts of sexual assault on two minors, one aged 6 and the other 8 years old, both the daughters of his concubine.

The judgment, delivered by Justice Mohan Niranjit Burhan, sets out the mitigating factors considered by the court in imposing the sentence including the convict’s health condition.

According to the convict’s medical records dated this year, the convict, aged 47, suffered fractures to his vertebrae due to an assault from other inmates while in remand custody.

Justice Burhan cited several similar cases including Crispin V The Republic (2015) in which the Court of Appeal considered the age of the accused, the fact that he was in a parental position and the trauma a young victim suffers and continues to suffer throughout their lives and imposed a sentence of 16 years, 2 sentences of 8 years running consecutively.

However, Justice Burhan noted that the prevailing law dictates that the convict is to serve a minimum mandatory term of 14 years imprisonment, but in consideration of the age of the convict and his numerous medical conditions, Justice Burhan ordered that a sentence of eight years imprisonment on each of the counts would be a just and appropriate sentence and ordered that all sentences run concurrently.

 

Two acquitted and cleared of conspiracy to import controlled drugs

 

Two accused were on Monday September 23 acquitted by the Supreme Court for the offence of conspiracy to commit the offence of importing a controlled drug, after the prosecution failed to establish conclusively the existence of an agreement between the two accused to commit the offence.

The two accused, 29-year-old Tony Vidot and 26-year-old Kiera Maria, were being tried after they were arrested by officers of the Anti-Narcotics Bureau (ANB) in October 2018 on suspicion of being involved in a drug transaction.

According to evidence given to the court by ANB officers, on October 2, 2018 at the Seychelles International Airport, ANB officers on duty were informed by a customs officer that two men were acting suspiciously in a toilet at the arrival lounge and that there had been an exchange of a package between them, one of whom was wearing a Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) uniform.

As the uniformed man, identified as Dominic Laure exited the lounge, ANB officers approached the other man, identified as Neil Suzette and searched his luggage before both were handed over to ANB officers.

Numerous officers gave their accounts of the events noting that a search at Neil Suzette’s property at Les Mamelles the same day produced nothing but that Mr Suzette was arrested and brought to the ANB office.

The officers were then informed that the first accused in the matter, Tony Vidot was also involved and a search of his house at Pointe Larue was also carried out. Nothing illegal was found in the house but according to the officers, a sniffer dog picked up the scent of drugs inside the bedroom and living room, specifically in relation to a small white plastic bag with a green design on the sofa, which was recovered by the officers. Both accused were arrested on that day.

During the trial, Chief Justice Mathilda Twomey was presented with a forensic analysis certificate stating that the plastic bag contained “traces of herbal material inside” but that it tested negative for controlled drugs.

The Court also heard evidence from Mr Suzette, who had prior to court proceedings agreed to being a state witness. Mr Suzette, who was at the time of the incident working as a painter with SCAA, noted that Mr Vidot was his supervisor and childhood friend and that in September 2018, Mr Vidot informed him by telephone call that he would be travelling to Abu Dhabi to purchase baby items and asked him to accompany him on account that his girlfriend was heavily pregnant.

He left for the trip with Mr Vidot on September 27 and was dropped at the airport by Dominic Laure who gave him some money to give to Mr Vidot, who arrived at the airport in a car driven by Ms Maria. According to Mr Suzette, in Abu Dhabi they stayed at the Premier Inn hotel at the expense of Mr Vidot and they remained in Abu Dhabi for four days before travelling to Seychelles on Sunday night, arriving in Seychelles the following day and that during the journey, Mr Vidot gave him a white and green plastic bag.

Mr Suzette continued on to state that he was contacted by Dominic Laure upon landing who asked to put him through to Mr Vidot. As Dominic Laure came out of the toilet, Mr Suzette gave him the white and green plastic bag containing bullet shaped objects which were brown in colour. He recalled that upon exiting the toilet, a customs officer pointed at them and he was told by Mr Vidot that “a deal” was in the plastic bag. They proceeded to the baggage claim area where an ANB officer approached him and asked if he had received a plastic bag from someone in the toilet.

Mr Suzette during the trial confirmed that the white and green plastic bag exhibited in court was the same one that he had given to Dominic Laure.

The court also heard from Dominic Laure who was also working at SCAA at the time, under the supervision of Mr Vidot. He recounted that upon being given the plastic bag by Mr Suzette, he called Ms Maria to ask her to come and collect her things. He too confirmed that inside the bag were bullets wrapped in cling film. Mr Laure had also signed an agreement with the Attorney General to be a state witness.

Ms Maria however noted that it was illogical for Mr Laure to call her to pick up her things since she was scheduled to pick Mr Vidot up at arrival of his flight and maintained that the bag contained mobile phones he had purchased in Abu Dhabi.

The accused’s legal representative Joel Camille argued that the prosecution failed to prove an essential element of the charge of conspiracy and supported the argument that the accused may have been set up.

Mr Camille also argued that it would be illogical for Ms Maria to meet with Mr Laure at her grandmother’s place when she could have received it directly from Mr Vidot when she picked him up at the airport.

Chief Justice Twomey stated that the burden of proof rests on the prosecution and outlined that the offence of importation has three necessary components. Among the three components, CJ Twomey noted the second which states that drugs are controlled if they are specified as being Class A, B, or C and that the case in context does not specify the type of dug, either in the charge of in the evidence, and that no drugs were ever recovered or presented to the court as evidence of importation.

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