(Jamaica Observer) REV Paul Hanniford was yesterday sentenced to 20 years in prison for having sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl two years ago.

The sentence was handed down by Justice Lorna Shelly Williams when Hanniford appeared in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.

The Pentecostal City Mission Church pastor was on January 24 convicted by a seven-member jury for having sexual intercourse with the girl, who was three years below the age of consent.

The court was told that the minor was a member of the the pastor’s Pentecostal City Mission Church and was baptised by him.

According to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP), the complainant, who is now 15 years old, testified in court that on March 12, 2015, she and her five-year-old brother went to the church for choir practice and after the rehearsal they asked Pastor Hanniford for a drive-out in his van. The pastor, the ODPP said, took the children to his house in Kingston and all three went inside the building.

“The pastor gave the five-year-old some cornflakes to eat. The complainant requested the use of the bathroom and while there in the bathroom the pastor entered. The complainant was pushed by the pastor outside the bathroom onto a bed that was inside a nearby bedroom and sexually assaulted her,” the ODPP said in a release following the pastor’s conviction in January.

Prosecutors led evidence that the complainant began crying for help.

The court was told that her cries of “help, help” were overheard by her brother, who had climbed onto a chair and peeped through a hole in the door and observed Pastor Hanniford sexually assaulting his sister which made him feel “sad”.

According to the evidence presented to the court, after the complainant managed to leave the room, and rejoin her brother, the pastor gave them some cornflakes to eat and later warned the complainant not to tell anyone as it was their “secret”.

Later Pastor Hanniford, the court heard, took the complainant and her brother back to the church where the mother of the children met them. The complainant’s brother made a report to his mother in the presence of the pastor about what he had seen.

The following day a meeting was convened at the church with the bishop, the pastor, the complainant, her brother and the children’s parents. On April 14, 2015, a report was made to the police and the pastor was arrested. He was subsequently charged and when he was cautioned he made no statement.

In his defence at the in-camera trial, the pastor denied having sexual intercourse with the complainant and said that he had given the children a drive-out but not on the day in question.

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