…says he thought victim was 17Thirty-eight-year-old Dhanraj Persaud, of West Bank Demerara (WBD), who had an unlawful relationship with a teenage girl was on Wednesday jailed for 18 years after the court rejected his claim of believing the girl was 17 at the time.Jailed: Dhanraj PersaudThis comes nearly one month after a 12-member jury found him guilty of raping the then 15-year-old at a WBD village.His sentence was handed down by Justice JoAnn Barlow at the Sexual Offences Court. He learnt his fate following the reading of a probation report that his attorney, Maxwell McKay had requested.In that very report, Persaud outlined that he and the victim were involved in a relationship and he thought her real age was 17. He held out that the victim told him that she was 17.The court, however, found that Persaud knew the girl since she was about 10 years old, growing up in the community. Through her victim impact statement, the teen told the court that she was living in a waking nightmare as a result of what happened to her, further saying that her pain has contributed to her having frequent suicidal thoughts. She asked that Persaud be punished for his crime. Persaud, then 33, committed the act on October 23, 2013, in the county of Demerara.Justice Barlow ordered the offender to utilise programmes available in prison for sexual offenders. Persaud was said to have dropped out of school in Grade Six (Primary Four) and soon after, he started to work as a labourer.State Counsels Tiffini Lyken, Seeta Bishundial and Abigail Gibbs prosecuted the case.