Former Corporal of Police, resident of River Road, St. George’s and former head the Police Welfare Department was sentenced to fifteen years in prison on Wednesday on charges of indecent assault and incest.
High Court Judge Shiraz Aziz presiding at the Number Five Supreme Court in St. George’s, handed down the sentence on the Lennard Benjamin just before 4pm following a plea of mitigation on his behalf by defense counsel Anselm Clouden during a sentencing hearing.
Benjamin was found guilty of three out of five charges on the 9th of November by a nine-member jury panel. The charges were two counts of incest and one count of indecent assault dating back to 2009 and 2013 respectively, The victim in this case, his sixteen year-old daughter.
According to the allegation, Benjamin was caught red-handed by his wife in an uncompromising position with his daughter, and additionally after repeated sexual acts with his daughter she eventually reported the matter to the police, all of which the former policeman denied, and maintained his innocence even after he was sentenced on Wednesday.
During Wednesday’s sitting the prosecution lead by Mrs. Chrisan Greenidge called for consecutive sentences to be imposed on Benjamin given the fact that he was a police officer and should have known better, he was used as a mentor in schools, speaking on violence against children. The prosecution also cited the repeated nature of Benjamin’s offenses.
Defense counsel on the other hand asked the court to be lenient given Benjamin’s previously clean criminal record, his good standing in society and the fact that he was a first time offender. The judge in his address to the court noted that the only mitigating evidence that goes in Benjamin’s favor is the fact the he is a first time offender.
Judge Aziz in delivering his sentence frowned upon the fact that the incident involved Benjamin’s daughter; added to that he had denied in court that the young lady was his daughter. The Judge also took into consideration the age of the victim, the location of the offense, which took place in the mother’s bedroom, the use of threats to prevent reporting and little or no remorse shown on the part of Benjamin. He noted that sexual offences are way too prevalent in Grenada and therefore the sentence must be one that speaks to deterrence, rehabilitation and prevention. This type of crime he said must stop, and society must understand that.
The judge reiterated that in a victim impact assessment report the young told social workers that on more than one occasion she thought about taking her own life, she lost trust in men, she felt humiliated, worthless and embarrassed walking the streets, having deal with a barrage of comments from members of the public and the media.
Meanwhile of the three counts of which Benjamin was found guilty, he was given three years on the count of indecent assault, nine years on the first count of incest and three years on the second count of incest; a total of fifteen years, sentences running consecutively and time spent on remand would be deducted.
In addition he must engage the social services worker at the prison for two years with a view of receiving assistance with his sex related problems. Asked whether there are any plans to appeal the sentence defense counsel Anselm Clouden said they are going to take some time to first digest the sentence, but they have not directed their minds in that direction. He however noted that his client has been given a considerable reduction bearing in mind that he was facing a maximum of thirty-five years. Clouden was also of the view that the sentence given to Benjamin by the judge sends a signal to the community that crimes of this nature would not be accepted and the court will extend the full force of the law on sexual offenses.
Meanwhile, while Benjamin was being escorted by police to the Richmond Hill Prison where he would spend the next fifteen years he was asked by member of the media how he feels about the sentence, his reply was “I’m just humble.”