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Penguin News Update

Friday, September 30th 2005 - 21:00 UTC
Full article

Taxi driver jailed for ?free ride' sex offences; Falklands team meets Lord Triesman; Pearce baby arrives; Peat Cutting this Monday;

Falklands team meets Lord Triesman

FOREIGN and Commonwealth Office Minister Lord Triesman spent time at the Falklands stand during the Labour Party Conference in Brighton this week. He met Councillors Jan Cheek and Roger Edwards and the Falkland Islands Government's UK Representative, Sukey Cameron.

Ms Cameron said, "We were well received and spent the time updating old friends and meeting many new ones. "It was also a good opportunity to meet a number of the new MPs who came in at the last election." The Falklands team will move to Blackpool next week where they will man the stand at the Conservative Party Conference.

Photo: Cllr Cheek, Lord Triesman, Ms Cameron and Cllr Edwards

Taxi driver jailed for ?free ride' sex offences

A TAXI driver has been jailed for a total of four years for committing sexual offences against a minor while giving her a free ride.

St Helenian father of five, Brian John Williams (48) was sentenced to one and three years in prison, to be served concurrently, for the offences he committed against a fourteen year old girl on March 26. Prosecutor Peter Cook opened the case on Tuesday afternoon. He said the girl had attended an evening disco at The Shack and left when she became bored. Trying to locate a male friend, she headed up Dean Street and saw Mr Williams sitting in his taxi. She stopped to speak with him.

According to Mr Cook, the complainant's belief was that Mr Williams had dropped her friend home not long before, so she asked him to give her a free ride to her friend's house. He obliged, however when they arrived at the friend's home, the place was in darkness. The girl then asked Mr Williams to drive her to K4 store in East Stanley. While driving on the By-Pass road, the prosecution alleged, Mr Williams committed the first sexual assault - digital penetration without consent. He then continued along the By-Pass road, failing to turn into any of the streets which led to K4, and stopped at the turn-off to the Canache, east of Stanley. It was here, Mr Cook alleged, that the two further offences were committed. Mr Williams then drove the girl to K4 and made her promise not to tell anyone what had happened. This she duly did and he left her at the store. Mr Cook said the complainant then made her way directly to the home of "an adult she trusts," and told her what had happened.

In a statement read to the court, the woman gave a detailed account of the girl's distress as she described what had happened to her. She said the girl told her, "I'm really scared, I don't know what to do," and made her promise not to tell anyone. However, after dropping the girl home later in the evening, the woman telephoned the complainant's sister and the two took the decision to inform the police. The complainant was interviewed by a social worker the following morning and a video from the interview was played to the court on Tuesday afternoon. She then gave live evidence via a closed-circuit television link. When asked by defence counsel Paul Treble why she did not "shout or open the door and get out" after the first assault, the girl responded, "I don't know." Again, he asked her why she did not get out of the vehicle when it stopped at the Canache turn-off; she responded, "It was a long way to walk." Mr Treble asked the girl if she had been injured in the assaults and she confirmed she had not.

DNA
Mr Williams was arrested the day after the offences were committed; his vehicle was seized and a forensic examination was carried out upon it. When interviewed by police, Mr Williams said he was sure no DNA evidence of sexual activity would be found in his taxi. However, swabs from the central console of the vehicle were examined by forensic practitioner Danielle Gill and evidence was found with a DNA profile that matched Mr Williams'. In presenting the defence's case, Mr Treble said no one could be sure how the DNA evidence came to be on the console of the vehicle; he reminded the court that this was where Mr William's kept his personal effects when in the vehicle and it was possible the evidence was there for "not sinister" reasons.

He questioned the "logistics and practicalities" of what the complainant alleged had happened and the lack of injury: "That just does not add up; I'm afraid the complainant was not being frank..." He suggested the complainant was a "troubled" teenager "seeking sympathy" and said the defendant did not know "why she is making this up." Due to time constraints, Senior Magistrate Clare Faulds was unable to deliver a full judgement on the reasons behind her verdict, but she acknowledged the assaults were unplanned and that Mr Williams was of previous good character.

However, she added that she was satisfied the defendant knew the complainant was under 16 and had not given any consent, "...nor indeed was she in a position to do so," given her age. Mrs. Faulds said she had given particular consideration to the statement from the complainant's adult friend which described the girl's distress and added that, although the complainant's evidence was "not without flaw" she found her account convincing. She said there was no "satisfactory explanation" for a taxi driver to go to the Canache, "...with a 14 year old for a free ride," and found Mr Williams guilty of all three charges. For the offence committed during the journey on the By-Pass road she sentenced Mr Williams to three years' imprisonment and for carrying out sexual activity in the presence of a person under 16 she sentenced him to a further year, to be served concurrently. She issued no separate penalty for the third charge of sexual touching without consent.

Serving sentence here?
An administrative decision will have to be made in relation to where Mr Williams will serve his sentence, Crown Counsel Ros Cheek confirmed yesterday. She commented, "I am not aware that there is any absolute time limit for serving a sentence here, and a number of factors will be taken into account in that decision making process.

"It would certainly be possible for Mr Williams to serve his sentence here, but a decision may be made that that would not be appropriate." She said it seems likely that the decision will involve both the Superintendent of Police and the Governor/Foreign and Commonwealth Office, "...because of the implications of Mr Williams serving his sentence out of the Islands." As for whether Mr Williams -who does not have Falkland Islands status- will be deported upon completion of his sentence, Ms Cheek said this is a matter for the Governor to consider, "...in accordance with his powers under the Immigration Ordinance."

She said a recommendation may be made by the Principal Immigration Officer to the Governor but added, "I would not wish to prejudge any decision to be made by the Governor, other than to say deportation must be a possibility in this case."

Pearce baby arrives

GOVERNOR Howard Pearce and his wife Caroline have announced the arrival of their baby daughter. Suzanna Pearce was born in the Netherlands on Monday, September 26, weighing around 7.5 lbs. A spokesperson for Government House reported, "Mother and baby are doing well." The Pearce family is expected to return to the Islands towards the end of October.

Peat Cutting this Monday

MARKING the beginning of Spring, Monday is a public holiday. All Government departments, other than those providing essential services will be closed for Peat Cutting Monday.

Categories: Falkland Islands.

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