Two rapists see sentences doubled for raping 11-year-old girl
Wednesday 23 May 2012
Two men locked up for raping an 11-year-old girl had their sentences more than doubled by the Court of Appeal today.
Roshane Channer and Ruben Monteiro, both 21, were originally given three years and four months in February after admitted raping the schoolgirl in a block of flats in Luton, Bedfordshire, last July.
Three judges in London agreed with Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC that the original terms of detention imposed at Luton Crown Court were "unduly lenient" - and raised them to seven years.
Channer, of no fixed address, and Monteiro, of Luton, will also be on the sex offenders register for life.
The Attorney General said in a statement after the ruling: "This was a horrible case where two men, aged 20, raped an 11-year-old girl, whilst two other youths watched.
"A video recording of part of the incident was taken on a mobile phone, further adding to the anguish of the victim.
"I'm very pleased that the Court of Appeal has today given clear guidance in respect of sentencing sexual offences of this nature.
"The law is clear that children under the age of 13 are incapable of giving consent to sexual activity, and I hope that today's sentence sends out a strong message to anyone who commits terrible crimes such as these - that you can expect to spend a substantial time in prison."
Baljit Ubhey, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: "We supported the Attorney General's decision to refer this case as one that had attracted sentences that were unduly lenient.
"I welcome today's ruling from the Court of Appeal to increase the sentences.
"Roshane Channer and Ruben Monteiro took advantage of a very young girl and, although they pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, needed to be punished for their crime.
"The original sentences of 40 months imprisonment in no way reflected the severity or seriousness of their crime. Today's increased sentences do.
"The CPS takes all allegations of rape seriously and has specialist rape prosecutors who have expertise in dealing with sexual offences cases.
"We work with the police and the courts to ensure that victims are given the best possible support.
"Cases of rape and other serious sexual offences are among the most difficult cases that we deal with and need to be dealt with very sensitively.
"The increased sentences given today recognise the severity of the offence and the vulnerability of the victim.
"I hope that today's increased sentences provide the victim with some measure of justice that will help her put this terrible episode behind her and move forward in her life.
"We will continue to vigorously prosecute offenders who target young and vulnerable victims."
The two men, who were 20 at the time of the attack, maintained that they thought the girl was much older than 11.
They were charged with the rape of a child who could not in law consent to sexual intercourse, but they asserted she was a "willing participant".
Lord Justice Pitchford, announcing the decision of the court, said: "These offenders could not have thought that the complainant was older than 14 years of age.
"It follows that no significant mitigation was available to them on the basis of a mistaken belief in the girl's age.
"They knew that the girl was incapable of consenting in law to the activity in which they required her to engage."
He added: "They did not care how old she was. They did not make any inquiry of the girl.
"The circumstances were such that they must have realised that she was a child and, therefore, vulnerable."
The only mitigating feature available to them was the "complainant's willingness to engage in sexual activity".
But such "willingness" was of "little value in mitigation where the offence amounts to the exploitation of a young child".
Lord Justice Pitchford said: "The circumstances here were that two adults jointly took advantage of a child in degrading circumstances."
He added: "The group nature of the activity... and the recording of the event constituted serious aggravating features of an already exploitative offence."
The harm done by the offenders will be "long-lasting, perhaps permanent".
Lord Justice Pitchford said the primary objective in such circumstances was "punishment and deterrence".
Detailing a number of "relevant considerations" for sentencing judges in such cases, he said: "There is a strong element of deterrence in sentencing for sexual offences committed against young children, whether they are sexually experienced or 'willing' or not.
"They are, by reason of their age, vulnerable to exploitation and require protection, sometimes from themselves."
He said: "Exploitative sexual behaviour towards a child under 13 without consideration for the vulnerability of that child may be just as serious as submission obtained by the use of force or the threat of force."
The judge added that "ostensible consent" and "willingness" were terms which, in the context of offences against the young in particular, "are susceptible to misunderstanding and, even if accurately used, are liable to obscure the true nature of the encounter between the offender and the victim".
The sentencing starting point in the Channer and Monteiro case should not have fallen below 11 years' custody "and may have been somewhat higher".
Lord Justice Pitchford said: "We are conscious that this must result in a substantial increase in sentence even after giving full credit for guilty pleas."
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