A Prince Edward Island businessman sentenced to 28 months in prison for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in the Halifax area more than 20 years ago is going to appeal both the conviction and sentence.

Stephen Nicholas Taweel was sentenced earlier this month for sexually assaulting the Dartmouth girl.

The Crown had asked for a three- to four-year prison sentence. The defence argued Taweel should be given a conditional sentence because he has no criminal record.

At the time of sentencing, Justice Patrick Murray of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court said he hoped to send a strong message of deterrence.

Defence lawyer Mark Knox pointed to the 55-year-old Taweel's lack of a criminal record and his strong standing in the community when asking for the conditional sentence.

28 letters of reference

A pre-sentence report provided to the court contained 28 letters of reference from Taweel's family and friends, as well as members of the Charlottetown business community, all vouching for his integrity and good character.

An assessment also concluded Taweel was at a low risk to reoffend.

Taweel is the president of Taweel Developments and Taweel Construction, and was former chairman of the Charlottetown Downtown Residents Association. He resigned from that position in June.

Taweel and the complainant originally met on Prince Edward Island in 1991. The sexual encounters happened on three separate occasions later that year at a home in Dartmouth, N.S.

The complainant, now 37 and whose identity is protected by a publication ban, described herself in court as a naive, timid and vulnerable girl who felt "trapped and confused" by a confident and persistent older man.