A 41- year-old father residing in Luganville has been sentenced to three years and four months imprisonment by the Supreme Court, after he was found guilty on three counts of incest committed against his 15-year-old daughter.

Supreme Court Judge, Oliver Saksak initially gave seven years of imprisonment for each of the three counts to be served concurrently.

He dropped the sentence to less than half of the initial sentence due to mitigating factors.

In 2016, the parliament increased the penalty of incest from 10 to 15 years imprisonment. This was acknowledged by Justice Saksak who termed incest as “a serious criminal offence”.

In this case, the father who will not be named in this article started committing the offence against his daughter when she was only 15 years old was also charged with four counts of sexual intercourse without consent, which he initially entered a not guilty plea.

His later altered his guilty plea for three counts of incest, not guilty to four counts of sexual intercourse without consent and one count of incest.

The Prosecution offered no evidence in respect of the charges that he pleaded not guilty to and nolle prosequi were entered under section 29 of the Criminal Procedure Code Act [CAP 136].

Therefore, the man was acquitted of the five charges, out of the overall eight.

The first mitigating fact that Justice Saksak based his decision on to reduce the sentence was the defendant’s good cooperation with the police during investigations and his remorse and contrition, with a substantial custom reconciliation ceremony.

For that his sentence of 7- year imprisonment was reduced by two years.

A one third reduction was made to the five years leaving the convicted father to serve only three years and four months.

“What you did is a disgrace to yourself and your family,” Justice Saksak told the defendants when issuing his sentence.

“The victim is your very own biological daughter.”

The judge said the daughter was 15 years old when the offence started to occur in 2015. Justice Saksak said she was attending a well-known college in Luganville when the first incident of incest occurred.

The victim went home for lunch and her father who was home alone dragged her into her brother’s room, where he raped her.

Being her father and living together under the same roof, the victim was not even safe inside her own house. The court heard that she was raped again in her own room in 2016.

The final incident happened in 2017 when the man came home drunk, he was in the process of raping his daughter when the victim’s mother arrived home.

“The offences were repeated,” stated Justice Saksak.

“There was a certain degree of planning. There was a serious breach of trust.

“You put the victim to great risk of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases as sexual intercourse was not protected by use of condoms.

“The girl was under your care and protection and as her father you abused that trust and parental responsibility.”

Citing past judgments that sets principals for such cases, the Supreme Court Judge stated that “men who take advantage sexually of young girls forfeit the right to remain in the community”.

He said that parents who use their children for sexual gratification will go to prison.

Saksak stated that the Court must impose a sentence that will serve the following purposes:

• mark the seriousness of the offendings

• mark public condemnation of the offender’s actions

• mark deterrence for the offender and other likeminded persons

• mark a protection for the young, the weak and the vulnerable members of the society; and

• punish the offender adequately