Birbal sentenced to 35 years in jail
Before sentencing former art teacher Andre Birbal to 35 years behind bars Tuesday for sexually molesting two of his male students, Justice Hartman Longley severely admonished the sex offender for scheming to carry out”a diabolical plot”to satisfy his sexual appetite.
“This is undoubtedly one of the worst cases of sexual molestation of young boys I have ever encountered,”the judge said of the case which made headlines exactly two years ago.
Birbal, who was employed by the Ministry of Education for 23 years, taught at the Eight Mile Rock High School for the 18 where two of his students say he sexually molested and manipulated them.
He was brought up on eight counts of having unnatural sexual intercourse with a boy under 18 years of age. The encounters were alleged to have occurred between January 2002 and June 2007 with one boy and between September 2002 and December 2005 with the other.
Attorney Carlson Shurland acted on his behalf while Attorneys Erica Kemp and Ambrose Armbrister represented the prosecution.
The 43-year-old Trinidadian was convicted last week by a seven-man, two-woman jury of six of the counts and returned yesterday before Justice Longley for sentencing.
Birbal showed no remorse, he said.
“The conclusion, however, seems inescapable on the evidence that you used the good offices of the church, your position as a teacher and your relationship with the boys to gain the confidence not only of the boys, but also the confidence and trust of their parents while scheming all the time to carry out a diabolical plot of the predatory sexual exploitation of these boys to gratify your depraved sexual appetite,”said Justice Longley.
Noting that Birbal, too, was a father, the judge said the teacher unleashed a wholesale systematic abuse of the boys and may even have been involved in pornography and it was clear to him that a suitable sentence must be handed down.
“The appropriate sentence reflect in a real way the gravity of these most serious heinous crimes and the affect upon these young boys–the youngest of whom appears to have been psychologically damaged by these crimes,”he said, adding that that victim described himself as Birbal’s sex slave.
Following his open rebuke, Justice Longley revealed that he was imposing a prison sentence of 15 years on the first count and 20 years each on counts two, three, four, five, and eight.
The last counts were to run concurrently with each other but consecutive with the sentence of the first count.
One woman seated at the rear of the court wept silently as the sentencing was being read and then she embraced another woman just outside the door of the courthouse as they both sobbed and held on to each other for comfort.
Birbal’s victim’s, however, were noticeably absent. in fact, they had not returned to court since testifying.
Onlookers watched as Birbal was whisked away from the courtroom under heavy police guard.
During the sentencing hearing yesterday, Prosecutor Armbrister pointed out that there was a 28-year difference between the convicted teacher his victims.
He noted that when Birbal first victimized the first boy, Birbal was 39 at the time and the boy was 11 and in the seventh grade.
The second boy, he added, was 13 and in the eight grade.
Defense Attorney Shurland, when reminded by the judge that he had not addressed the issue of remorse during mitigation, said that he would only to the extent that Birbal defends his innocence and to the extent that the young men would have experienced something he didn’t wish on anyone.
Shurland added that it is difficult to say”I am sorry”for something to something one did not do.
Armbrister pointed out to the court that Birbal was not sorry and had shown defiance in the face of the decision of a jury of his peers.
In referring to the outcome of similar cases, Armbrister said there were similar factors the court took into consideration when it comes to Birbal’s case in the fact that he breached the trust of the men and their families, they were young and the offenses were repeated over a substantive period of time.
He added that Birbal had groomed his young victims over the years to be his sex slave, breached his power as a teacher and his position entrusted in him by the Ministry of Education.
Following sentencing, Armbrister said it was appropriate.
“Make no mistake about it, Mr. Birbal is a sexual predator and I mean that because the evidence was that the acts that occurred happened over a sustained period of time,”he said.
He noted that the judge indicated that the sentence that was imposed was necessary, particularly for the deterrent affect.
“You don’t want persons out there, who may be in the same position that Mr. Birbal was in, to take advantage of persons entrusted with their care,”said Armbrister.
Attorney Shurland, however, believed that regardless of the sentence Birbal had intended to appeal it as well as the conviction.
“I have no emotions about the sentencing. If the trial was a fair trial and he was found guilty fairly they could throw the book at him; but I always maintained that he could not get a fair trial, therefore as far as I’m concerned any sentence that he got is unfair,”he said.
A female friend of Birbal, who has stuck with him throughout the entire ordeal, said she remains loyal to him.
“Mr. Birbal was my friend, I worked with him for all of these years. I have come here this morning to support him because as far as I am concerned I never saw any of that. I can’t say it’s true or not; the only person that knows is between him and God, or between the two boys and God,”she said.
“I’ve said all the way through this, the truth will set you free and that’s what I believe in. so if he has been wrongly convicted, then hopefully he’ll be taken care of and if he has been rightly convicted that’s it.”