Man who raped own cousin gets 10-year prison sentence confirmed on appeal

The Appeals Court said that though the abuse started when the accused was still a minor at law, 17, the acts had carried on for another seven years 

File photo
File photo

The court of Criminal Appeal has confirmed a 10-year prison sentence handed to a man who sexually abused his younger cousin over the span of 7 years from when she was 7 years old.

The man, now 26 but 17 at the time the offences took place, had filed an appeal after being sentenced in January 2019 for participating in sexual activity with a minor and the corruption of the girl.

During the trial which had gripped the nation’s attention, the then 16-year-old girl had testified, telling Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera that the abuse would happen at her grandmother’s house and had included a single instance of penetrative sex. In November 2017, the police had been contacted by the child’s school after the girl, then 14, reported that she had been repeatedly sexually abused, on an almost weekly basis, by her cousin.

In a relatively brief judgment, Chief Justice Joseph Azzopardi, Mr Justice Joseph Zammit McKeon, and Madam Justice Edwina Grima ruled that although the abuse had indeed started when the appellant was 17 years old, and therefore a minor at law, the acts had carried on for another seven years and this meant that he had certainly reached the age of majority whilst committing the offences with which he was charged. He had raped the minor when he was almost 20 years old and therefore was not a minor during the commission of that offence, said the court.

The judges said they could not ignore the fact that this man had persisted in his sexual abuse despite getting older and had eventually raped her when she was just 10 years old. Consequently, the court said it was of the opinion that the sentence should stand.

Lawyers Matthew Xuereb, Nadia Attard and Charles Mercieca appeared on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.

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