“Praise God. Thank you Father,” were the first words which a relieved Lionel Wilson uttered after he was acquitted of a rape charge this afternoon.
At exactly 1:20 p.m. the forewoman of the nine-member jury told Justice Pamela Beckles that they had found Wilson not guilty of rape by a 7-2 majority after deliberating for just over an hour.
The jury had returned nine minutes prior and asked Justice Beckles for further instructions after they had been unable to reach a unanimous verdict.
Wilson, now 37, had been charged with the 2016 rape of a 73-year-old woman.
Upon hearing the news that he was free to go, Wilson breathed a sigh of relief and flashed a smile.
He took his first walk of freedom in four years moments minutes later, stopping to look to the sky before covering his face with an orange washcloth and thanking God.
Speaking to members of the media outside on the steps of the Supreme Court, Wilson maintained his innocence, saying he had been wrongly charged.
“When they come with the not guilty verdict I said, ‘Oh my God it feels so good. In my heart I said thank you for what you have done for me’.
“I was in prison for something that I did not do and it’s very hard in prison and I feel so grateful for what the jury come back and say with the verdict. It feels so great. God is good and he has done great things for good people,” an obviously relieved Wilson said.
He said while he was born in Barbados, he had spent the majority of his life in St Vincent and would be looking to return there as soon as possible.
“The next move for me is trying to get my life back together, get to my family and get everything sort out. I plan to stay here for a little while but I will be leaving here very soon, either this week or next week. For what I went through here I don’t want to go through something like this again so I leffing this country and going back to St Vincent and better my life back in St Vincent because it’s very hard on me,” Wilson said.
He recalled that his time in prison had been tough and urged persons not to go there.
Wilson also called for better treatment from police officers, some of whom he claimed brutalized him while he was being held for questioning.
“I feel great to be out of prison at this point in time. It’s very hard inside there because prison is nowhere for nobody to be. In prison you get feed like a pig…The food you are getting has no taste, the tea has no sugar whatsoever so it’s very hard for people inside prison. It’s no place for nobody to be at this point in time and I’m so grateful to be out at this time,” he said.
“In Barbados it’s like you are guilty before they prove you innocent to the court. Police in Barbados does brutalize yuh plenty in the station…I can’t tolerate this thing with police beating up people and forcing them to sign statements that they didn’t write.”
Wilson was represented by attorney-at-law Lalu Hanuman while Principal Crown Counsel Krystal Delaney led the case for the prosecution.
During the case, Wilson contended that the complainant had attacked him while he was in the shower and he had retaliated and attacked her.
However, the prosecution had suggested that Wilson had raped the elderly woman after he had approached her for sex and she denied his request.
Hanuman admitted to the jury while there was evidence of an assault there was no evidence of rape, as the prosecution had presented no forensic or medical evidence to support its case.