After 13 years of enduring the shame of a rape charge, a 61-year-old man finally walked to freedom this afternoon.
A nine-member jury deliberated twice before arriving at a majority 7 to 2 not guilty verdict in favour of the accused Sylvan Thorne of River Land, St Philip. Thorne had been charged with having sexual intercourse with a female without her consent, knowing that she did not consent or was reckless as to whether she so consented on January 14, 2007.
On their first try, the jury returned before Justice Randall Worrell in the No. 2 Supreme Court after just over an hour to report that the panel could not reach a unanimous verdict on the charge of rape.
At that point, Justice Worrell instructed them to go back and seek to reach at least a seven majority position of guilty or not guilty.
It took the jury less than half hour to arrive at its majority decision where seven jurors agreed that Thorne was not guilty as charged.
Moments after being told by the judge he was free to go, a delighted Thorne emerged from the courtroom with his team of attorneys led by Queen’s Counsel Michael Lashley declaring he was relieved and thankful the trauma was over.
“I feel relieved. I am pleased with the judgment because I didn’t do anything. So it come out the way how it was supposed to come out,” he told reporters on the steps of the Supreme Court Complex on Whitepark Road.
While thanking his attorneys for backing him along the way, Thorne said the entire journey was rough during which he lost “everything”.
“It was rough, workwise…lose everything…so I don’t even know how I am going to get it back. I don’t know how to get it back…everything. People began to call me a movie star. I don’t even know what to do yet. I will have to go home and study out something, what to do and prayer,” Thorne said.
The freed man, a member of the Spiritual Baptist faith, noted that he had been praying all the time during the ordeal.
His attorney Lashley said justice was done.
“This matter has been going on for some while. In fact, even before I became a minister [of Government], I was the attorney involved. I also want to thank my team Dr Lynda Blackman, Shontelle Parris and Faith Greaves-Agard for really doing the background research in this matter and connecting everything together to the defence of Mr Thorne,” Lashley said.
“Again this speaks to the delay in the criminal justice system…a matter like this for over 13 years, really should have been completed before. My client had to live through agony in terms of whether he be found guilty or not by a jury,” the senior counsel told reporters.