The daughter of a convicted rapist who is waiting to be sentenced by a High Court judge sent a Facebook friend request to the judicial officer.
A judge said on Friday he was alarmed by the incident. Justice Hayden St-Clair brought the matter to the attention of the defence attorney representing convicted rapist Mukesh “Legs” Ganpat, 48, when the matter was called in the San Fernando Second Criminal Court.
Interjecting as attorney Chris Ramlal was about to make his mitigation plea on behalf of Ganpat, the judge said he saw the request from Alisa Ganpat, whom he believed to the daughter to the accused, and whom he said was seated in court.
The judge said: “It is equivalent to attempting to walk up to me and discuss her father’s case with me. It is totally inappropriate.”
Questioning whether anyone would consider it appropriate to walk up to a judge in a case in which they have an interest, the judge said, “I don’t think she would be mad enough to do that. How could she feel she could approach me by that means?” After speaking with the daughter, Ramlal confirmed that she sent the request.
He said the daughter claimed she was not directly searching the judge's name, that his name came up as a friend suggestion.
Rejecting this explanation, the judge said that would only happen if they have friends in common.
“Who do I have in common with Alisa Ganpat except for this matter,” asked the judge.
Ramlal said the convict's 23-year-old daughter did not say why she sent the request, but she confirmed that the judge had not accepted her friend request. She said she was sorry for sending the friend request.
Ramlal said he was also surprised by the incident. Ganpat was in June convicted by a jury of raping an 18-year-old girl in New Grant on June 30, 2004.
St Clair Douglas remanded him into custody for mitigation and sentencing.
The victim testified that Ganpat, whom she knew, offered her a ride home and she accepted. But, he instead took her to a house where he raped her.
Ganpat, who is unable to work because of an injury to his leg, denied the accusation.
Asking for leniency, Ramlal said Ganpat was the sole caretaker of his wife who is a stroke victim and uses a wheelchair.
Ramlal said Ganpat, who has no previous convictions or pending matters, also had medical problems. He pointed the judge to the probation officer's report which stated that he was not at risk of re-offending. However, state prosecutor Trevor Jones asked the court to send a strong message in passing sentence because such offences were serious and too prevalent.
Citing medical experts that rape victims suffer long-term psychological effects, he said often times the effects of this barbaric crime is trivialised.
He suggested 18 years as an appropriate sentence. The judge is expected to sentence Ganpat on November 30.
- by Sascha Wilson