Thursday 27 February, 2020

Driver, abducted boy with sexual intentions, sentenced

A route taxi driver was yesterday sentenced to eight years in prison for abducting an 11-year-old boy with the intentions of having sex with him.

This was the sentence handed down to George Lamar McLawrence who was also previously convicted of committing serious indecency against a slow learner. This conviction was back in 2017.

Yesterday, Lawrence of 7th Avenue, Skeete’s Road, The Ivy,  St Michael stood in the No. 5 Supreme Court before Judge Pamela Beckles where he heard the sentencing details. 

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The charge against McLawrence indicated that on January 25, 2009, in the parish of St James, he unlawfully took away the 11-year-old male against his will with intent to have sexual intercourse with him. He was found guilty by a jury on June 8, 2018.

The court heard that Mclawrence has a total of four previous convictions - two for theft, one for wounding and the other for serious indecency.

In addition, a pre-sentencing report revealed information about McLawrence's family, educational, employment, social background and attitude to the offence.

Childhood 

As a child Mclawrence was raised by his paternal grandmother who was said to have exposed him to spiritual guidance and taught him wholesome family values.

McLawrence completed his secondary school education but left without any academic qualifications and then spent most of his life conducting and driving public service vehicles (PSVs).

Community Response 

The members of McLawrence's community viewed him as having a preference for persons of the same sex - something Mclawrence denies.

They further described him as having a quiet manner and as one who presented no behavioural challenges in the community.

The report indicated that McLawrence continually maintained his innocence and showed no remorse.

Victim 

The complainant, who was 11 at the time of the offence - now 20, said the incident negatively impacted his life and left him irrational trust issues.

Sentencing

"It must be noted that when a court is carrying out its sentencing function, it should bear in mind the five basic principles outlined by William CJ in the case of Benjamin v R," Judge Beckles said.

Those principles, she said, are to punish the offender, to deter potential offenders, to deter the particular offender that is being sentenced and prevent the offender from offending by incarcerating him for a long period and to rehabilitate the offender that he might resume his life as a law-abiding member of society.

The judge highlighted that the maximum penalty for the time this type of offence was 10 years.

She said the aggravating factors included the nature and seriousness of the act of abduction, the youth and vulnerability of the 11-year old, the negative impact on the complainant and criminal history.

It was revealed that Mclawrence committed the act of serious indecency against a slow learner and had been on bail for a similar offence when the offence was committed.

"The breach of a position of trust, in that the complainant would have taken the lift offered by you, a route taxi driver expecting that you would've delivered him to his destination safely and not attempt to commit any criminal acts upon him," the Judge added.

The sole mitigating factor in the matter was the absence of violence against complainant.

Judge Beckles said the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors and that the offence was fully deserving of a custodial sentence.

She determined eight years as an appropriate starting point.

However, the 66 days already spent on remand was deducted meaning that Mclawrence will serve a remainder of seven years and 299 days; to run concurrent to any sentence which is currently being served.

He also was ordered to enroll in a vocational programme to gain a skill.

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