A 26-year-old man was convicted yesterday of sexual offences against an underage girl.
A jury found William Franklin Smith guilty of unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 14 and sexual exploitation of a young person by a person in a position of trust by a majority verdict of ten to two.
The verdict came after a week of evidence in the Supreme Court and more than five hours of deliberation by the jury.
Acting Puisne Judge Craig Attridge remanded Smith in custody, but said he was prepared to hear a bail application next week.
He said: “In the circumstances of the case, I’m not minded to grant him bail currently.”
Smith had denied all of the charges and Elizabeth Christopher, his lawyer, said after the verdict that he intended to appeal against the conviction.
The Crown alleged that on or about September 23, 2016, Smith sexually touched the girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, and had sex with her while he was watching her and her younger cousin.
Maria Sofianos, for the Crown, said Smith covered the girl’s face during the incident so he would not see her face.
Prosecutors said Smith attempted to have sex with the girl again sometime in the summer of 2017, but stopped when he heard a noise from elsewhere in the home.
The offences came to light on November 1 that year when the girl’s great-grandmother found the defendant in his underwear in the child’s bedroom.
A doctor’s examination days later revealed the girl had a trichomoniasis infection — which is usually spread through skin-to-skin sexual contact.
But the doctor confirmed that the trichomoniasis parasite can live on inanimate objects such as toilet seats for a period of time.
Smith claimed in evidence that he never touched the girl sexually and that he was not in the girl’s bedroom on the morning of November 1, despite the evidence of the girl and her family.
He told the court he had felt ill from drinking and was retching into a garbage bin outside her bedroom when he heard her great-grandmother screaming at him.
The maximum penalty for sexual exploitation by someone in a position of trust is 25 years in jail.
Ms Christopher applied for Smith to be bailed while he awaited sentence, but the Crown objected.
Ms Sofianos told the court: “This is a very serious case involving four counts of sexual offences against a child.”
She said Smith was close to the victim’s family.
She added: “For that reason, all children in the community stand to be at risk if he is bailed.”
Written by Owain Johnston-Barnes The Royal Gazette