INVESTIGATING A VICIOUS RAPE CASE AT CHURCH BAY
As one of two Detective Inspectors at Hamilton CID on call-out duty for serious crime in the mid-1980’s, I received a call at 5.00 a.m. on Friday 20 April, 1984 and immediately commenced enquiries into a complaint by a student tourist that she had been raped earlier that morning on the beach at Church Bay, Southampton Parish. I was advised that A/Ds Juanita Allchin had met with the 16-year-old at Church Bay and that they were then on their way to the King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH).
I went to the scene of the alleged assault in company with night duty CID officers Dc’s Railton and Linton. I spoke briefly with two male witnesses one of whom lived opposite the Church Bay entrance and who had been awoken at about 4.20 a.m. by a “girl screaming and calling for help.” Both men described the girl’s demeanor and detailed their initial contact with her. A description of the assailant and his clothing was obtained.
CHURCH BAY, SOUTHAMPTON
At the scene I saw a Yamaha motor-cycle Q447 in the parking area together with a cycle helmet lying on the ground in close proximity. Enquiries at the registered address to trace the owner revealed that she was off-island on vacation. I was given her contact telephone number in the USA and I made an early morning telephone call to Maine and eventually spoke to her after she was had been woken from sleep. She told me that in her absence she had lent her cycle to a male friend by the name of Robin ‘Birdie’ Stovell. Resulting from what she further told me I instructed Dc Linton to obtain a Section 464 search warrant for a certain residence in nearby Sun Valley, Warwick.
DS Adams and Dc Tartaglia were on their way to join the team.
At 7.30 a.m. in company with Dc Linton I went to a residence in Sun Valley, Warwick where I spoke to the owner and went with him and Dc Linton to a room within his house. Knocking as we entered the room into semi-darkness, I saw Stovell standing opposite the doorway beside the bed. He was fully dressed in blue jeans, a tan shirt and casual shoes on his feet.
I said, “Birdie, we’re police officers. I’m Inspector Rose. This is detective Linton. We are making enquiries into the assault and rape of a young girl on Church Bay, Southampton earlier this morning. I have good reason to believe you can help me with my enquires.
I’d like to know where you were earlier this morning”
A. “Here in my bed”
[The bedroom light was switched on by Dc Linton].
Q. “What time did you get home?”
A. “Something after 3 o’clock”
Q. “Did anyone see you come in?”
Q. “How were you travelling?”
A. “I was using a friend’s bike. She’s gone away.”
Q. “Where’s the bike now?”
A. “It should be outside”
Q. “Where’s your helmet?”
A. “I don’t know. It should be here”.
‘Birdie’ glanced around the room. No gain.
Q. “Have you got your keys?”
No reply. He searched on top of the dresser and feels in pants pockets. No gain.
I said, “Birdie, I have here a search warrant in your name authorizing me to search for clothing which may help me in my enquiries. Dc Linton will show you the warrant. I tell you now that you are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so but whatever you do say will be taken down in writing and may be given in evidence. What clothes were you wearing last night?”
A. “These pants and this shirt” (as wearing)
Q. “And that sweater?” – pointing to a tan-coloured woolen sweater lying on a nearby dresser.
I said, “Change your clothes Birdie. Strip off and put something else on”.
Stovell gave his jeans, shirt and underpants to Dc Linton who placed them separately into brown paper bags. Dc Linton also seized the tan-coloured sweater from the dresser and other clothing including a man’s jacket from the closet.
I said, “Birdie, I’d like you to voluntarily accompany us to the station to assist further in my enquires.” He agreed to do so and as we left outside the residence Stovell said:
“Where’s my bike? Somebody must have stolen it”.
Q “What about your helmet?” And where’s your bike key?”
A. “Oh, I remember now I was half-hot and fell off”
Q. “And the key?”
A. “I left it in the bike”
Q “Where exactly did you leave the bike?”
A. “Right here in front of this taxi”
At the Hamilton CID I said to Stovell:
“As part of my continuing enquiries into this matter I have made arrangements with a doctor at the hospital to have you medically examined. I give you to understand that you do not have to submit to this examination if you don’t want to do so but at the same time I ask for your continued cooperation.”
Stovell replied: “Let’s go.”
Before leaving the CID offices I made precautionary enquires to establish the whereabouts of A/Ds Allchin and [complainant]. Satisfied that they were not in the area, I accompanied Stovell and team officers to the KEMH.
Before entering the hospital Dc Linton again cautioned Stovell and I met with Scenes of Crime officers Detective Sergeant Ernest McCreight and Dc Providence. I had a conversation with Dr. Keith Cunningham after he had completed his examination and learned of his findings which included the presence of sand in Stovell’s private area.
in service as a Sergeant on 21 August 1991 after 20 years of service
Stovell was escorted back to the Hamilton CID where I said to him:
“Birdie, I’ve considered all matters relevant to this enquiry so far and I have listened to what you have had to say. I am not satisfied with your explanations. I am of the opinion that you know a lot more about the assault on this young girl than you are saying. I am therefore arresting you on suspicion of raping [named complainant] during the early hours of this morning on Church Bay, Southampton.
You are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so but whatever you say will be taken down in writing and may be given in evidence.”
Stovell shrugged his shoulders but made no reply. He was searched and detained.
At a later identification parade the complainant identified Stovell as her assailant.
It’s perhaps important to recognize that the forensic science of DNA analysis and profiling was first successfully used in the UK some years later in 1988 to convict a single killer for two separate 1986 homicides. Such profiling was therefore still very much in its infancy in 1984 and as such it played no role in our investigations.
During interviews over the weekend Stovell refused to answer any further questions. He was indictably charged with rape of the 16-year-old and appeared in Magistrates court where he was remanded in custody pending trial.
On Monday April 30, 1984 at Hamilton CID I recorded a statement from the cycle owner of Q447 and her helmet both of which she lent to the accused during her absence from the island. I released the cycle, helmet and keys into her possession against receipt and she left the station riding her cycle.
Just over 12 months later, the Supreme Court trial commenced on Tuesday 21 May, 1985 when it was reported as follows by The Royal Gazette:
US STUDENT TELLS OF ALLEGED RAPE AT SOUTH SHORE BEACH
“A New York high school student told a Supreme Court jury yesterday how she was dragged, screaming, off her livery cycle and onto Church Bay Beach by an alleged rapist last April.
“The often-crying 16-year-old described an evening which began with her and numerous friends from a school tour to the Island visiting several local nightspots, and ended with her being raped on the Southampton beach by a stranger who dragged her off her cycle as she drove home alone.
“The 23-year-old Warwick man accused in the April 20 incident has pleaded not guilty to a rape charge. The trial, under Puisne Judge the Hon. Mr. Justice Melville, opened yesterday and is expected to continue for a week.
“Under questioning from Mr. Brian Calhoun, prosecuting, the young, blonde-haired student told the eight-woman four-man jury she went to a party and visited several downtown nightspots with a group of about 15 friends the night of April 19, before accompanying one member, a boyfriend, to his lodgings at about 2:30 a.m.
“She admitted she slept with the boyfriend that night, then left – alone – at about 4 a.m., driving along the South Shore Road to return home.
As she approached Church Bay and signaled to turn onto the road where her lodgings were, she said:
“I was aware someone was behind me.”
“I put out my arm to signal I was turning and the vehicle behind me started honking.
I pulled over to my left because I thought it might be a Police officer,” she said.
“She said she had been riding without a crash helmet because at some point earlier in the evening, her headgear had been stolen.
After she pulled onto the roadside, she said, the person following her pulled alongside her and got off his cycle.
“I noticed right away that it was no Police officer so I tried to drive away. He grabbed my right arm and pulled me off my moped. I started screaming and tried to get away from him. He was telling me he was a Policeman and that he was going to call the station because I didn’t have a helmet on.
“Then he pulled me on the ground and started dragging me on my stomach toward the beach.”
Once on the beach, she said, the man raped her.
“I stopped screaming because he told me he wouldn’t hurt me if I didn’t scream,” she said.
Afterwards, she said, the assailant fled, warning her not to follow until he was out of sight. When she eventually left the beach, he was still on the roadside and ordered her back to the shore, threatening to hit her if she didn’t follow his orders.
“Later, she returned to the road to find the man had vanished but his motorbike and helmet were still there.
The young woman said she used a telephone booth to summon Police.
As she awaited their arrival, she said, she saw three men walking along the road towards her.
“I was concerned,” she said. “I thought the man who raped me might still be there and had come back with friends. But once I saw them I realized it was not the man who raped me.
“I told them I had been raped and they waited with me until Police arrived.”
“She later picked the accused out of a ten-man Police lineup, she said.
She then pointed to the prisoner’s box in the courtroom and began to cry as she identified the accused as “the man who raped me.”
“She also said there was no violence involved in her earlier encounter with her male friend.
“Earlier in the trial, a former girlfriend of the accused testified she had loaned her motorbike to him on April 19, since she was vacationing in the United States and would not be using it herself.
“The next day, she said, she received a telephone call in the US from Police about her bike.
“In answer to questions by Mr. Peter Farge, defending, she said she had been a girlfriend to the accused “for a long time” and that the relationship had been marked by no episodes of violence.
“In introducing the case for the prosecution, Mr. Calhoun said he would tender medical evidence showing signs of her struggle with the accused, and introduce scientific evidence which will link fluids from the victim’s body to the accused.
The evidence, he said, “will show whether coming from an encounter with her boyfriend she would engage in sexual intercourse with some guy who pulled up beside her on a bike.” (sic)
“During the process of selecting the jury for the trial, Mr. Farge objected to the presence in the courtroom of special jurors [who had not been selected earlier] to hear the case of six men charged with assaulting Det. Sgt. Patrick Hamlett.
“My client is concerned that some of the people here are special jurors,” he said.
“Special jurors are called for complicated trials. This is not a complicated trial.”
“When Mr. Justice Melville pointed out the prospective jurors are no longer considered “special jurors” if they have not been selected to try the Hamlett case, Mr. Farge responded his understanding “it’s that special jurors are perhaps more intelligent, more educated.”
“I should think that’s the sort of jury you want,” Mr. Justice Melville retorted. “You want intelligent people, not dunderheads making up numbers.”
As the trial continued during the following days The Royal Gazette reported as follows:
CANADIAN EXPERT IN BEACH RAPE CASE
“A Canadian forensic expert told Supreme Court that semen found on the clothes of a 17-year-old girl who was allegedly raped last April did not necessarily belong to the man who is accused of raping her.
“The 23-year-old man, defended by lawyer Mr. Peter Farge, has denied the charge.
The eight-woman four-man jury also heard a cross-examination of the tearful blonde-haired girl who began giving evidence on Tuesday.
“Under cross-examination, the blonde-haired, who was 16 at the time of the rape, tearfully told Puisne Judge the Hon. Mr. Justice Melville how she had been dragged screaming from her livery cycle and onto Church Bay where she was raped at 4 a.m. on April 20 [last year].
“She said she and 15 friends from a school tour had visited several local night-spots the previous night before she went to the lodgings of a boy from her hometown at about 2.30 a.m.
“On the way home, she said the man, who was black, stopped her and pulled her screaming off her cycle.
“Mr. Farge suggested she was “terrified” of black men and that was why she screamed.
“She replied: “I would have screamed if it was anyone, man or girl, black or white.”
“Under re-examination by Mr. Brian Calhoun, prosecuting, she said: “My best friend was a black girl at home.”
“The girl told Mr. Farge she had seen the man clearly in the street lights and said she had no hesitation that he was the man who raped her when she saw him in a ten-man Police identification parade the next day.
“W.P.c. Juanita Allchin said she went to Church Bay after the girl called the Police about 20 minutes after the alleged rape occurred and later took her to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
When asked by Mr. Calhoun to describe the girl’s demeanor, she said: “She was very upset, crying and very nervous. She was trembling.”
“She said she took the girl to hospital where she was examined at 7 a.m. “She had scratches on her arms, legs and stomach,” Wpc Allchin said.
“There were two tears ..... [Redacted testimony]
“W.P.c Allchin said she was present when the accused man was questioned on April 21 and said he refused to answer any questions.
“Canadian forensic serologist Mr. Dennis Thrift, a specialist in blood semen and saliva identification, said he had examined clothes and blood samples of the man and girl at the Central Forensic Laboratory in Ottawa.
“He said none of the semen found on either ....... (redacted testimony) could be definitely identified as the accused’s.
“Mr. Thrift, a civilian employee of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the Central Laboratory in Ottawa, said both the girl and the man had non-secretor blood types which made it impossible to distinguish between the two.
“He said he examined .....(redacted testimony) taken from the girl and found it contained type “A” blood.
“When asked if it was possible this semen came from the accused man, he said: “In my opinion it would not be possible to tell.”
“Under cross-examination by Mr. Farge, he said blood and semen taken from both the man and the girl’s clothes could not be identified as belonging to the accused man.
“The trial, which began on Tuesday, is expected to continue for a week.”
The Royal Gazette reported as follows on Saturday, May 25, 1985:
GIRL PROBABLY FORCED TO HAVE SEX – PATHOLOGIST
“Pathologist Dr. Keith Cunningham told a Supreme Court jury on Thursday that a 16-year-old girl who he examined hours after she claimed to have been raped at Church Bay beach last April  had probably been forced to have sexual intercourse.
“Dr. Cunningham, a doctor at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital told Puisne Judge the Hon. Mr. Justice Melville that his examination of the 23-year-old Warwick man accused of raping the New York student, now 17, showed that he had recently ejaculated.
“Earlier, the jury went to the site of the alleged rape at Church Bay Beach and heard evidence from two witnesses who found the blonde-haired girl minutes after the alleged attack.
“On Wednesday Canadian forensic serologist Mr. Dennis Thrift said semen found on the girl’s private parts and on the clothes of both the man and the girl could not definitely be identified as belonging the man.
Yesterday Dr. Cunningham said he examined the girl at 7 a.m. – three hours after she called the Police for help. He said her stomach, arms and legs were covered in bruises and sand and dirt.
“Replying to Mr. Brian Calhoun, prosecuting, he said the condition of the girl was not “consistent with consensual sexual activity.”
“He said an examination of the man at 10 a.m. that morning revealed he had probably had sexual contact with a female at some time in the previous eight hours.
“Under cross-examination by Mr. Peter Farge, defending, Dr. Cunningham admitted it was possible, but “unlikely” that the woman had consented to have sex with the man.
Earlier H.G, a chef, who lives opposite the entrance to Church Bay, said he was woken up at about 4.20 a.m. by a “girl screaming and calling for help”.
“He said he went outside and flagged down a passing car and told the two men inside what he had heard.
“The three of us started walking towards the phone booth when we spotted the girl,” G said. “Then we called after the girl who was confused and scared.”
“He said: “She asked who we were and we said we were trying to help. She said she had already called the Police and she had been raped. Then she started crying, saying she had been so close to her home.”
“R.T, one of the men in the car, said that the girl had been calm when they first started to speak to her but had become hysterical as she told the men how her assailant had dragged her down to the beach and forced her to stop screaming before raping her.
“[He] said she told them the man left and when she had tried to get to a nearby phone booth he had threatened to beat her up if she did not stay on the beach.
“Det. Chief Inspector George Rose said he established the man’s identity from his motorbike – which had been left at Church Bay – [and] went to his house where he said he found the man in his room standing fully dressed beside his made bed.
“When he asked him where he had been that night, the man said he had arrived home at about 3 a.m. and had gone to bed.
“When Chief Inspector Rose asked the man where his bike was, the man replied, “It should be outside” but [then] could not locate his helmet and keys.
“Chief Inspector Rose said the man later said he had been “half-drunk” and had fallen off it and left it on the road to his house.
“Chief Inspector Rose said he arrested the man after he had spoken with Dr. Cunningham following the man’s medical inspection at the Hospital.”
The trial was to resume on the following Monday when it was expected the accused would take the stand in his defence.
The Royal Gazette reported as follows on Tuesday, May 28, 1985
PATHOLOGIST’S IMPARTIALITY IS QUESTIONED
“Lawyer Mr. Peter Farge yesterday accused a King Edward VII Memorial Hospital pathologist of not being “quite as impartial” in giving evidence in a Supreme Court trial as he could have been.
“Mr. Farge was summing up his defence of a 23-year-old Warwick man accused of raping a 16-year-old American tourist in April last year.
“He said Dr. Keith Cunningham had inferred from his examination of the girl hours after the rape had occurred that she had probably been forced to have sexual intercourse.
“Yet in cross examination he admitted that the ....... [redacted testimony] he came across could have been attributed to sexual activity earlier that morning,” said Mr. Farge.
“The jury also heard the summing up of Mr. Brian Calhoun and the beginning of Puisne Judge the Hon. Mr. Justice Melville’s summing up. The case is expected to finish today.
“Earlier in the trial, the man made a short unsworn statement from the dock. He said: “There is not too much I would like to say. I’m not guilty of this charge. That’s my case”.
“In his summing up, Mr. Farge told the jury his client had told a consistent story throughout.
“He was awoken at 7.30 a.m. after the Police knocked at his door,” said Mr. Farge. “He expressed some surprise to see his bike and been taken. There is something to be said for this.”
“Mr. Farge accused the girl of “exaggerating certain parts of her story”.
“She said she was dragged off her bike and dragged down to the beach and raped,” he said. “Her injuries were light for being dragged all the way.
“The victim said she saw lights under the casuarina trees and said the lighting was good, but another witness, Mr. R.T, was uncertain he could identify a person’s features from ten feet away,” he said.
“Mr. Farge said the girl had been uncertain about identifying the accused man who was wearing a helmet for some of the rape.
“She was in the room of the identification parade for five minutes before it began,” he said. “She had ample opportunity to go straight to him. But she asked another man to open his mouth first. So there was a pause there. That may be relevant.”
“Mr. Farge said semen examined by Canadian forensic serologist Mr. Dennis Thrift had only revealed semen from the boy the girl had sexual intercourse with earlier.
“Mr. Farge told the jury: “The prosecution would like you to think that a stain on the inside fly of the man’s underwear which was blood ABO type A – the same blood group as the boy who had sexual intercourse with the girl earlier – belonged to the boy.
“This is not proof in any way of the man’s association with the girl,” he said.
“Mr. Calhoun said the man’s evidence had not been consistent.
“He said he had fallen off his bike because he was half drunk, yet he claimed later he had stopped at the Ice Queen and bought a hot dog which he ate while driving home,” said Mr. Calhoun. “He can’t be barely able to stand and also be able to ride over hill and dale eating a hot dog.”
“Mr. Calhoun said the first thing the jury had to do was establish there had been a rape. He said the way the girl had been pulled off the bike, had screamed as she was dragged down to the beach and the injuries she received both on her body and ....(Redacted testimony] all showed that the jury “should be able to come quickly to the conclusion she was raped”.
“Mr. Calhoun said the accused man was lying when he said in Police statements he had returned home from Hamilton at 3 a.m. and was asleep in his bed when the Police woke him at 7.30 a.m. “Why was he up, fully dressed, standing beside his made bed when the Police came?”
“The rape was at 4.30,” he said. “He would have left his bike and walked by a round-about route through backyards along the beach to his home two miles away where he changed his jeans.
“He didn’t go to sleep,” said Mr. Calhoun. “He had sex with someone that night after 2 a.m.”
“He said: “He’s lying to you and he lied to the Police. Why? He’s lying because he raped the girl.”
“Puisne Judge the Hon. Justice Melville told the jury that the issue in the case was not whether the girl had been penetrated but the identity of the man.
“He will continue his summing up of the case today.”
On Tuesday May, 28, 1985 24-year-old Robin J Stovell of Warwick was jailed for ten years for the beach rape of a 16-year-old tourist.
BEACH RAPE MAN GETS 10 YEARS
“Passing sentence, Puisne Judge the Hon. Mr. Justice Melville equated the assault with an attack on the tourist industry, which Bermuda “lives and dies by”.
“This sort of behavior can only dissuade people from coming here.”
“He recommended Stovell undergo psychological care while in prison for the 1984 crime he described repeatedly as disgusting.
“After the eight-woman, four-man jury announced its unanimous verdict, the judge said:
“Stovell, you have been found guilty of a most serious crime. One only needs to look at the circumstances to see how disgusting this crime is.”
“He recalled that Stovell forced the girl off a moped at 4 a.m. on April 20 [last year] and dragged her down a path to Church Bay Beach where he raped her.
“The judge said the attack was also disgusting because Stovell pretended to be a policeman, stopping the girl for driving without a helmet.
“Using the authority of the law to commit this act, to abuse a young girl is disgusting,” he said. “It also brings the Bermuda Police into disrespect.”
“While the judge acknowledged the rape was Stovell’s first violent offence, he noted the man’s long criminal record.
“Earlier, Det. Chief Inspector George Rose took nearly ten minutes to read out Stovell’s record which dated from 1975 and included more than 30 convictions, mostly for theft.
He noted that Stovell was released from serving a ten-month stealing sentence eight days before the rape. And he described Stovell as single and unemployed.
“Mr. Farge, defending, read a letter from Miss [cycle owner] who claimed to have known Stovell for 20 years. She said she found him to be a friendly person who had spent time in prison for theft crimes, “but never rape.”
“Robin is a thief, not a rapist,” she wrote. “He only needs to be loved and cared for. Being brought up in a foster care home does affect you at some point in life. He steals for attention, the only attention he gets. He never raped anyone or he would have raped me a long time ago.”
“Crown Counsel Mr. Brian Calhoun said the maximum sentence for rape is 20 years but the usual range over the last five years had been eight to ten years.
“Mr. Justice Melville disagreed with Mr. Calhoun’s description of Stovell as a consistent danger to people preferring instead to call him a small-time operator and petty thief.
“But then Mr. Calhoun expanded his remark saying that Stovell did not respect people’s legal rights whatsoever. “The concern is that all people of Bermuda are entitled to the protection of their rights and this accused has shown consistently over the last nine years that he respects no legal rights,” he said.
“Before pronouncing sentence, Mr. Justice Melville said the public must be protected from the likes of Stovell. “The people must feel free to come and go as they like,” he said. “You (Stovell) don’t let them.”
“He recommended psychiatric care for Stovell, and said: “I hope it will help you turn your life around because it’s going to be a wasted life if you don’t do so.”
“Stovell remained silent and impassive throughout the verdict and sentencing, much as he had throughout the trial.
“The jury reached its decision in one hour after listening to Mr. Justice Melville’s two-hour instructions and review of the evidence.
“Evidence referred to by the judge included a statement that the girl’s injuries were not consistent with consensual sex. As well, Stovell’s motor-cycle and helmet were found at the scene of the crime.
“The judge said that “bits and pieces” of evidence showed that sexual intercourse did take place and that Stovell was involved. “But if you have any reasonable doubt you must resolve it in favour of the accused.”
“Later, after the verdict was announced, Mr. Farge said that Stovell maintained his innocence. But he was interrupted by Mr. Justice Melville who said: “They always do. But the evidence here is overwhelming. He can think what he likes.”
On May 28, 1985 the complainant’s father addressed a personal letter to me and to W/Ds Allchin in the following terms:
Detective Inspector Rose
Dear Mr. Rose:
I just received the news of the verdict from Mr. Calhoun. I can’t tell you how delighted we are that justice has been done. It makes all the agony and heartache worth it.
I know that a great deal of time and effort went into the preparation for the case from numerous people in your department. For all their efforts, I am most grateful.
However, I would like to thank you personally for all your help and to offer particular gratitude to Juanita Allchin. Without her comfort and ever present optimism, I really don’t think [my daughter] could have gone through with it. Of course, not to mention her excellent police work. She is a credit to your department and Bermuda.
Thank you again for everything.
Walter A ……….
cc. Edwards, Asst. Commissioner of Crime
J. Allchin, Police Headquarters
M. Herdman, Esq., Deputy Governor
Later in this year it was revealed that there would be: –
NO REDUCTION IN RAPE SENTENCE
“The Court of Appeal dismissed an application to reduce a ten year rape sentence. Robin J Stovell, 24, formerly of Warwick, [who] was sentenced on May 29 to ten years in prison for raping a 16-year-old tourist had earlier appeared in Supreme Court to appeal the length of the sentence.
“Miss Jo Carol Robinson, Stovell’s lawyer, said ten years was excessive in light of the facts of the case.
“The lawyer said the victim received minimal physical scratches and bruises to her legs and abdomen. And this was the first time Stovell had committed a crime against another person, she said.
“His previous criminal record showed offences against property and this crime was out of character. She said in comparison with similar rape cases the length of the sentence was excessive.
“But Crown Counsel, Mr. Barry Meade, disagreed and said there were a number of rape sentences that ranged between eight and ten years”.