A 21-year-old man from Vinavus village in south Santo has received a sentence of 3 years and 5 months after being found guilty of engaging in indecent behavior and unlawful sex with an underage girl.

The offences took place when the man was 17 years old, and they occurred on two separate occasions involving a girl who was attending primary school at the time.

The victim was only 11 years old during the first offence and 12 years old, attending class 4, during the second offence. It is worth noting that the girl is related to the perpetrator as a brother.

These acts took place within the victim’s home when she was unaccompanied. A medical examination confirmed the nature of the offences committed against the victim.

Having admitted to the crime in December of last year, the man was sentenced by Chief Justice (CJ) Vincent Lunabek last month. According to section 97 (1) of the Penal Code [CAP 135], the penalty for engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 13 is life imprisonment.

After considering various aggravating factors, CJ Lunabek initially imposed a sentence start point of 8 years’ imprisonment. However, the sentence was subsequently reduced due to several mitigating factors.

Firstly, the man was given a reduction of 6 months for not having any previous convictions. Additionally, he was entitled to a full one-third reduction for pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity. Furthermore, his sentence was further reduced by 8 months for his admission of guilt and prompt apology to the police. CJ Lunabek emphasised that these actions demonstrated his acknowledgment of wrongdoing, acceptance of responsibility, and genuine remorse.

Taking into account the offender’s age, the Chief Justice considered that at the time of the offences, he may have been left with immaturity and poor reasoning regarding his sexual life.

In line with a ruling from a previous similar case, a further 20 percent reduction was granted.

The imposed sentence is effective from January 13, 2023, which marks the date of the man’s custody. He has been given a period of 14 days to lodge an appeal against the sentence.