Appeals denied for track coach

| 06/11/2017 | 9 Comments
Cayman News Service

Ato Stephens

(CNS): Ato Stephens, the Trinidadian-born track star and coach who was jailed in August for abusing an ICT network by “sexting” with a teenage girl, had his appeals against conviction and sentence denied Monday. The Court of Appeal rejected arguments from the defence on behalf of Stephens, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the sexual messages exchanged between him and a teenager he was coaching, which included her sending him nude and semi-nude photos of herself.

Defence counsel Amelia Fosuhene appeared for Stephens, who did not attend the hearing because he said he suffered from “travel sickness”. She told the court that on Friday the Conditional Release Board had heard Stephens’ case but no decision had yet been made; release is available after 60% of a sentence has been served.

In rejecting the appeal on conviction, the court noted the relationship between Stephens and the teenager was one of trust due to the training and expertise he gave her as an athlete. The issue before the court was whether the conduct of Stephens fell within Section 90 of the Information and Telecommunications Authority Law, which says “a person who knowingly uses an ICT network or ICT service to defraud, abuse, annoy, threaten or harass any other person is guilty of an offence”.

The court noted that Fosuhene argued that the context of the words used in the texts did not amount to using an ICT network to abuse the victim; they were of an enticing nature without any pejorative remarks or insults.

Appearing for the crown, Cheryll Richards, the director of public prosecutions, argued that when Stephens, who was in a position of trust, encouraged, enticed or persuaded the teenager to do something to her detriment, by sending the photos to him, then “it is difficult to conceive of anything else but abuse of a minor”.

In giving their judgement, the justices agreed with the crown, saying they had to take into account the person to whom the texts were sent, and that it would be different for a consenting adult than a minor. In this case, the judges said, the network was being used to abuse the victim with texts of an “indecent sexual nature”, and so rejected the appeal against conviction.

As for the appeal of the sentence, when asked by the court, defence counsel agreed that 18 months was not too long. The trial judge had noted that Stephens had spent almost 12 months in custody between awaiting extradition from the US and time spent in remand in Cayman before the trial, which would be equivalent to the required 60% before being considered for release.

But the appeals court said it should not take into account future administrative decisions on how sentences should be served, and dismissed the appeal against sentence.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (9)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    For Christ sake, would you people try to keep up? Deportation was ordered already.

  2. Anonymous says:

    He’s got a damn cheek to attempt to appeal. Do the crime, you do the time! He should have had 5yrs. That would have taken the wind out of his sail. 18 months is a joke! He’ll be out in half that time.
    You’ve got to sit back and think what damage this adult male has done long term to that young girl. ANY person that is here on a permit or even been given status should have it revoked and deported back to their country on completion of their jail term. We don’t need these kind of people on this island to reoffend. We have enough home grown offenders here making people’s lives a misery as it is and cluttering up Northward.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hmm the question now is that once he is released what will the Powers to be do? Will they revoke his status? or will he be allowed to come and go as he pleases?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Grooming a teen. Yeah, that’s okay. no big deal. let him go. I’m sure he won’t do it again. And once others see that you can get away with it, well…. it will carry on as it has always done.

  5. DB Kooper says:

    Hes lucky he got 18 months.


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