Ex-teacher loses rape of minor appeal

National 2 minutes, 21 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

A 65-YEAR-OLD retired teacher’s appeal to reverse his conviction of raping a minor was dismissed.

The High Court sentenced Hj Abu Bakar H B to four years in jail after he was convicted of two counts of raping a 12-year-old girl in 2008.

The girl was sold for sex by her mother after their father had left them and four other children to destitution in 2005.

Hj Abu Bakar had contacted the mother through a man named Farid, and paid the girl on the two occasions he had sexual intercourse with her.

The appellant was prosecuted after he admitted during questioning in a case against the mother.

During the trial, Hj Abu Bakar admitted to having sex with the girl, but contended she was 18 years old as told to him by Farid, who was given the information by the girl’s mother.

During the appeal against his conviction, presiding Court of Appeal judge Justice John Barry Mortimer said Hj Abu Bakar was not forced into confessing his crimes.

The court further rejected the defence counsel’s argument that the High Court judge should have found on a balance of probabilities, Hj Abu Bakar had mistakenly believed the girl to be 18 years old, which led him to believe that he was justified in law when having sexual intercourse with her on both occasions.

“The appellant made no further inquiry of the girl or the mother. In all the circumstances it would be difficult to hold that the appellant’s belief was in ‘good faith’, given the provision in Section 52 that to be ‘in good faith’, his belief must be with ‘due care and attention’. The appeal against the conviction must fail,” said Justice Mortimer.

The judge was also “unable to accept that a retired teacher who is experienced in dealing with the young, could believe a 12-year-old to be as mature as an 18-year-old even on the civil standard of proof”.

The court also dismissed the defence counsel’s suggestion to allow the appeal against Hj Abu Bakar’s sentencing and substitute it with a non-custodial sentence of probation or community service.

The circumstances for the appeal submitted for the court’s consideration included the four-year delay in concluding the case; Hj Abu Bakar’s mental and physical health; revocation of all his pension rights; his full cooperation during police investigation; and that he is fully remorseful of his actions.

Justice Mortimer said the High Court had accounted the delay in the sentencing and that imposing a probation order or community service order was not justified due to the serious nature of the offence.

The court, however, agreed the girl had consented with no violence or overbearing of her will being involved, and that she did not suffer any trauma. Justice Mortimer added the sentence was not excessive.

The Brunei Times