Stephens’ appeal unsuccessful

Stephens being escorted from court earlier this year. (Photo courtesy: Cayman 27)

The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal has denied a bid by former track coach Ato Stephens to have his prison sentenced reduced or his conviction for “sexting” a teenage girl quashed.

Stephens, who represented Trinidad and Tobago at several major international meets including the Olympics, was sentenced in August for the abusing an information and communications technology network by having exchanges that were sexual in nature with the girl, whom he coached.

Justice Sir Alan Moses delivered the court’s decision Monday, 6 November 2017, after deliberating with Sir John Goldring and Justice Sir Bernard Rix.

The issue was whether Stephens’ actions were in breach of Section 90 of the Information and Telecommunications Authority Law. That section states that “a person who knowingly uses an ICT network or ICT service to defraud, abuse, annoy, threaten or harass any other person is guilty of an offence”.

The court found that Stephens, 38, had abused his position of trust that came with teen relying on him for coaching and expertise. The text exchanges included him requesting and receiving nude and semi-nude images of the girl – exchanges the girl’s mother discovered on her phone.

The appeal court also ruled that the 18-month sentence was not excessive. At trial, Stephens was found not guilty of gross indecency and indecent assault charges.

As an athlete, Stephens represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics but never advanced beyond the heats. He also ran at the IAAF World Championships in 2001, 2005 and 2007. He won a bronze medal for his home country at the 2003 CAC Championships, and took the silver at the 2005 edition.

He was banned from competition for two years after failing a drugs test at an international competition in May 2009, testing positive for Oxandrolone and Stanozolol, both steroids, as well as Tamoxifen, a testosterone-boosting drug.

Stephens, who has a child from his marriage with 2010 Commonwealth Games 200m gold medallist Cydonie Mothersill, is expected to be deported upon the completion of his sentence.

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