By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
RESERVE Sergeant Dwayne Decosta was unanimously acquitted yesterday of having sex with a 13-year-old girl at a police station last year, but was convicted of abducting and assaulting her.
A nine-member jury--five men and four women--unanimously found the 56-year-old security officer guilty of committing the two lesser offences at the South Beach Police Station on July 14, 2018.
Decosta, who is married with two children and five grandchildren, will be sentenced on October 2. His bail continues until that time.
After Decosta was convicted, Crown attorney Perry McHardy said the prosecution is seeking the maximum sentence for both convictions--three years for assault and two years for abduction.
However, Decosta's attorney Murrio Ducille questioned the logic behind such a submission given that Decosta was a first-time offender.
"The law doesn't operate that way," he said. "It's not asinine."
Additionally, Mr Ducille submitted that no evidence was adduced, either through the teenager or the other Crown witnesses that would "constitute" or satisfy the ingredients of the two offences.
In any event, Mr Ducille appealed for the judge to be merciful, as he submitted that she would not be taking "any risks" in applying her discretion "in a lenient way" in sentencing his client.
Mr Ducille further submitted that it is not every case that warrants the "deprivation of one's liberty," and asserted that Decosta is "not the sort of individual" society should be apprehensive about.
Mr Ducille further noted that while he could not give a character reference on Decosta's behalf, he has known his client from the time he was a prosecutor, and said the man has an "unimpeachable and impeccable character".
Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson indicated that she needed further time to consider Decosta's sentence, and adjourned the matter to next week.
During trial, it was initially alleged that Decosta digitally penetrated the teenager, who is now 14, and made her perform oral sex on him in a room upstairs in the station's fire services garage. It was alleged the acts occurred while Decosta was working the 1am to noon shift.
The allegations emerged from a statement the girl gave to Inspector Altida Bowles in her mother's presence on the same date of the incident.
It was alleged that after being taken to the police station by her father's neighbour around 6am on July 14, and while sitting in the foyer, an officer in navy blue called the girl from the foyer and directed her to a room upstairs at the rear of the building.
According to the evidence, Decosta beckoned for the girl to come outside at 11.53am.
While upstairs in the fire services garage, Decosta was alleged to have forced the girl to commit sex acts.
According to the evidence, the girl returned to the foyer at 12.21pm.
However, when the girl gave sworn evidence, she denied telling police about any sexual acts allegedly committed by Decosta, and in fact said the contents of her statement were "incorrect".
The teenager said although she signed her statement, she did not read it over before she signed, and neither was it read back to her by the interviewing officer. She also said she didn't sign the document truthfully.
The girl also testified in open court that she could not remember if her mother was present during the interview.
And those admissions came after she doubled down on her previous testimony that "nothing" sexual happened between her and Decosta at the South Beach Police Station.
Insp Bowles, who took the statement from the girl and conducted Decosta's record of interview, has since said that not only did she read the girl's statement back to her, but the eighth grader signed it "in four places" along with her mother before she herself signed it.
During the trial, the girl confirmed that she told police that while inside the station, an officer wearing navy blue, said to be Decosta, approached her. She initially denied telling police that the officer called her outside, but then told the prosecutor that an officer did in fact call her outside.
The teenager went on to confirm that she told police that Decosta told her to go to the rear of the building, which she said she did. She confirmed that she told police that Decosta followed her to the rear of the building before instructing her to take a flight of stairs. She said she told police that Decosta was behind her the entire time.
According to the evidence, that area of the fire services shed is "restricted" and not operational due to mould. Civilians in particular are not allowed in that area, according to the evidence.
Subsequent to the no-case submission stage of the trial, it was revealed that the charge of unlawful sexual intercourse was no longer before the jury, but rather the lesser charges of abduction and assault.
On Mr Ducille's advice, Decosta elected to remain silent and not to give any evidence to counteract the Crown's claims, though he maintained: "I'm innocent of all charges."
However, as a result of Decosta's new charges, Mr Ducille appealed to the jury to apply "common sense" in deciding his client's fate, as he questioned how his client could be made to answer to an assault charge when the court ruled he had no case to answer on the unlawful sexual intercourse charge.
The attorney also insisted that no evidence had been led during the trial to satisfy any of the charges, hence his client's choice to remain silent despite having "the sword of Damocles over his head".
However, lead Crown prosecutor Jacqueline Burrows urged the jury to accept whatever evidence the girl was willing to give, that of what she said took place from Decosta called her outside and directing her to the rear of the building, notwithstanding that the girl was unwilling to tell her true story in court.