On 13th August 2015 Christina Sethi, a 25 year old care worker from Devon, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for three counts of sexual assault and two of assault by penetration.
These related to three victims, and the conduct was carried on between January 2014 and May 2015.
The exact details were not particularly clear in the initial news reports. The Mirror had the best detail, and from that we know that one of the assault by penetration was using a vibrator on one elderly lady (penetrating her anus), and “fondling the genitalia and breast of another“. The victim in that case was 101.
Ms Sethi stroked the penis of a third man as she washed him. All three victims tried to complain about the treatment
The offending had come to light when Ms Sethi sold her computer to a friend and some of the footage was in the deleted files.
Ms Sethi committed these offences “because her boyfriend would find it sexually gratifying“. Although he hadn’t threatened her, she did this as “she did not want him to become distant“. Ms Sethi did confirm that “she was enjoying what was taking place“.
Ms Sethi worked at the Care Home and was aware of the full care plans for the individuals, who were all extremely vulnerable in different ways. She obviously had no previous convictions.
These offences are covered by the Sexual Offences Guidelines. The maximum offence for the Sexual Assaults is 10 years, but life for the two offences of assault by penetration.
For that reason, it is best to start with the sentence for those two offences (see page 13), and increase the sentence slightly to take account of that, whilst bearing in mind totality.
It seems that there was a guilty plea at a very early stage. Given the seriousness of the case, it would appear to be a case where full credit of a third was given. However, there is a suggestion that a Newton hearing may be needed, and so it may be that a reduction of 25-30% would have been appropriate.
So, looking at the tables on pages 14-15, it is clearly a Culpability A offence (significant degree of planning, abuse of trust and recording).
What about the Harm? This is harder to work out, without having fuller details of the offending. It’s almost certainly a Category 2 due to the breach of trust and the filming (although you have to be careful not to ‘double count’ the vulnerability of the victims).
On what is reported in the news, there would not appear (just) to be sufficient to say that this is a Category 1 offences, so we would suggest that it is a 2A offence, with a starting point of 8 years and a range of 5 to 13 years.
However, given the nature of the victims, it would appear to be right at the top of that category. When account is made for their being two victims of the assault by penetration, and a third who was subject to a sexual assault, a sentence at the top of the range of 13 years or more would be appropriate.
This was an extremely lengthy sentence, but it was a very serious set of offences.
If there was full credit, this would indicate a starting point of 15 years. Although this is above the guidelines, it is probably justified.
For this reason, we would not expect there to be a successful appeal.
Although it was extremely serious offending, it is probably right that Ms Sethi is not ‘dangerous’ in the legal sense, and does not require an extended sentence.
Ms Sethi will be released after serving 5 years and will remain on the Sex Offenders Register for the rest of her life.