Rapist must register as sex offender, report to police for 10 years after release

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A convicted rapist already serving prison time has had four more years added to his sentence for a 2007 assault on a 17-year-old girl in Diego Martin.

On Thursday, Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds sentenced Kester Benjamin to a final sentence of four years, nine months and 16 days. She also ordered him to register as a sex offender and report to the police once every two months for ten years after he is eventually released from prison.

Benjamin’s name will also be published on the national sex offender registry website.

Ramsumair-Hinds said she made the order for registration and reporting because the court felt greater vigilance and monitoring were required because there appeared to be a pattern of escalating sexual deviance.

Benjamin has five previous convictions for sexual offences, including rape, buggery and indecent exposure. A prison service welfare officer also submitted to the court that while Benjamin’s participation in various programmes may have aided his rehabilitation, it may be insufficient because of his proclivity for criminal sexual tendencies, the judge quoted at Thursday’s sentencing hearing.

A recommendation was made for Benjamin to get psychiatric help when released. In addressing Benjamin after sentencing him, the judge expressed hope he would be able to reform his ways.

In March, the judge mainly approved a plea deal between Benjamin and the State. She said she could not agree to the recommendation that his sentence should begin from the date of his arrest, but did apply the various discounts for his guilty plea and the 5,552 days he has already spent in prison, which left him with just under five more years to serve.

At the plea-deal hearing, Benjamin apologised to his victim – which was accepted – and admitted he had a “sickness” of extreme sexual perversion.

“I was suffering from that, and it took over ten years of therapy for me to recognise what I was doing and the hurt I was causing to people,” he said at the hearing in March.

“…Most people don’t understand sexual perversion. I have lived it and I understand it, so I will like to help other people going through this, because most of society will just take people and shaft them for that, because that is not a crime that anybody likes.

“But it is a sickness and it took me over ten years to realise that, and I hope that answers the question of how somebody could do something like that. There are really sick people out there who need help.”

Benjamin had admitted to not being 100 per cent cured, but now knows what he needs to abstain from.

“I cannot watch porn, and cannot be in places where there are loud things going on, and to abstain from these things. So it comes like I put up these barriers to ensure that I don’t ever do something like what I did to you that night.”

On Thursday, he said he will try to rehabilitate himself and be a better person in society.

“I will do better in my life.”

In her address to the court in March, Benjamin’s victim, now 32, said it was hard to describe the impact the incident had on her.

She spoke of the trauma she experiences whenever she reads reports of rape, including the abduction and murder of Ashanti Riley (murdered in 2020, aged 18) by someone who “viewed her as a sexual outlet” for their pleasure. She said she could not understand what made Benjamin feel he had the authority to force himself on her.

Travelling at night leaves her paranoid, she said.

According to the evidence, at about 9 pm on August 29, 2007, the 17-year-old girl was on her way home after classes in Petit Bourg and went to the Diego Martin taxi stand. A blue car pulled up and the driver signalled he was going to Diego Martin.

Benjamin picked up three other passengers, who dropped off at Cocorite and Covigne Road, and she paid him to go off route. At some point, Benjamin pretended to be speaking on his cellphone and told her he was going to pick up his wife and children before dropping her home.

He parked his car in a lonely area that had a precipice to one side and an incline to the other. He pulleed up the handbrake and locked the doors.

She tried calling a relative, but he knocked her phone out of her hand and told her he would have to tie her up. He forced her to perform oral sex on him.

When he tried to rape her, another vehicle drove up the incline where they were. It turned out to be the police and PC Shaka Trim saw a man struggling with something.

Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Danielle Thompson, in presenting the evidence in March, said Benjamin exclaimed, “S–t,” and told his victim not to scream, but she did, alerting the police.

Benjamin was confronted and denied any offence. He was taken to the West End police station and charged. A shoelace was found in the car which would have been used to tie up his victim.

The judge commended Thompson and deputy Chief Public Defender Raphael Morgan for the plea-deal discussions they held, saying it was not just “brokered justice but negotiated justice.”