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Man asks for leniency on sexual assault conviction

Raymond Ronald Barnes, 23, stands in a provincial courtroom in St. John’s Thursday afternoon for his sentencing hearing. Barnes has pleaded guilty to eight charges, including sexual assault, theft, arson and uttering threats against police officers. He will be sentenced next month.
Raymond Ronald Barnes, 23, stands in a provincial courtroom in St. John’s Thursday afternoon for his sentencing hearing. Barnes has pleaded guilty to eight charges, including sexual assault, theft, arson and uttering threats against police officers. He will be sentenced next month.

A Bell Island man who has pleaded guilty in provincial court to eight charges says he regrets them all — except one.

At a sentencing hearing for Raymond Ronald Barnes Thursday afternoon, the court heard excerpts from a pre-sentencing report prepared earlier this month. The report stated Barnes has expressed remorse over stealing an ATV and burning it, stealing a car and leaving it submerged in water, threatening three police officers and spitting at one of them during the summer of 2015. What he doesn’t regret, the report said, is the sexual relationship he had with an underage girl that resulted in the birth of their daughter.

“He loves her and her baby,” the report said. “He knew her age, but didn’t think he was doing anything wrong.”

Barnes, now 23, had a two-year relationship with the girl, starting when she was 14 and he was 21. Crown prosecutor Mike Murray told the court the pair had intercourse from the start, and last year, when the girl was 16, she gave birth to a girl.

Murray said the teenager — who sat with Barnes’ father in the courtroom Thursday — was a willing participant, and had considered Barnes her boyfriend.

By law, a person under the age of 16 cannot give sexual consent to a person more than four years older than they are. If the sexual activity includes elements like anal sex, payment or pornography, or involves a person who is in a position of authority or trust, the age of consent is 18 years. All sexual activity without consent is unlawful.

Barnes has been banned from contacting the girl since he was charged with sexual assault last year, though he has maintained contact with his daughter. The baby’s mother has written a letter asking the court to consider relaxing the condition on Barnes, in order to facilitate their co-parenting.

Barnes’ other charges relate to two other incidents, the first occurring in June 2015, when he and a friend stole an ATV from a Bell Island resident and subsequently burned it. The same night, he and his friend — who was also charged and convicted separately — also stole a car belonging to an acquaintance’s mother, went joyriding and left it smashed and submerged in a pond. Barnes, who admitted he had been drinking, was arrested and later released on bail under a number of conditions, including that he stay away from alcohol.

Two months later, an RCMP officer saw Barnes boarding the Bell Island ferry, carrying a case of beer. When he attempted to arrest him upon reaching Bell Island, Barnes became belligerent, tried to avoid being handcuffed, spat at the officer and told him, “I know where you live.” Later, he told two other officers they would “need a morgue” that night.

At Barnes’ sentencing hearing Thursday afternoon, the court heard Barnes had grown up with no trauma, but had started experimenting with drugs at a young age, including Percocet, Ritalin, ecstasy, cocaine and Oxycontin. He has a certificate from the Marine Institute and worked on the Bell Island ferry until he was charged, and now works as a roofer.

The pre-sentencing report revealed Barnes has no prior convictions and has been drug-free since the birth of his daughter, and deemed him a medium-low risk for further criminal sexual activity, and medium risk for criminal activity in general.

Murray is asking Judge Lori Marshall to sentence Barnes to 12 months in jail for stealing the vehicles and a further three or four months for threatening the police officers. A jail term of three or 3 1/2 years for the sexual assault would be appropriate, he said.

“Mr. Barnes has committed some serious offences, but is a man who has never committed any offences before,” Murray told Marshall, suggesting a total sentence of four years, the bulk of it for the sexual assault.

Acknowledging it was far below the normal range of punishment for a sexual assault, defence lawyer Michael Ralph told the judge that Barnes was asking for a blended sentence: credit for the eight months he has already spent in jail at the standard time-and-a-half rate as punishment for the sexual assault, and a period of house arrest for the other charges.

“He has acknowledged that although (the girl) was a willing participant, she was certainly not able to consent because of her age,” Ralph said. “Mr. Barnes understands that.

“We recognize that this (suggested sentence) is well under the range, even with credit at time-and-a-half, but that is Mr. Barnes’ disposition.”

Marshall will bring down her sentence Aug. 21.

 

tara.bradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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