Sentencing in domestic abuse cases is often a problem – Senior Magistrate
The court battled on how to sentence cases of domestic abuse this Monday, as a defendant pleaded guilty to harming his long-time spouse.
He need warning,” Keziah Bascombe, wife of 15 years to David Bascombe told Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett, after the police had finished recounting her husband’s latest abuse towards her.
“He need warning? So you want me to warn him and send yall back home? And if he beats you again, what do you expect to do?” Burnett asked her.
However, Keziah was sure that she did not want her husband, the breadwinner of the family to go to jail, but announced that she was looking for a house to rent.
This was the discussion in the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court this Monday surrounding sentencing of David Bascombe who pleaded guilty to pushing his wife on April 13, and causing her to hit her head and lose consciousness.
The police informed that the wife had made a number of reports against her husband over the years, for both verbal and physical abuse.
The Magistrate began by asking the defendant a few questions, but Bascombe could not remember the day or year that he got married.
Burnett also wanted to hear from the wife, and as she was present, Keziah entered the witness box.
She, did remember the date and year she got married, reasoned that when a married couple have disagreements, they should settle them calmly without bringing in-laws into the picture. She complained that her mother-in-law knew everything that happened in their home.
Burnett then asked her what she would like him to do with him now.
“He ah the breadwinner of the house,” the wife admitted, saying that the reason why she brought him to court was so that he would learn “manners and respect”.
“Yes, well. He’s a 40 year-old man now. It’s seems as though he did not do too well in learning that. So um…that’s all you want me to do to him?” the senior magistrate asked.
It was at this point that she asked that her husband be warned, but was certain that she didn’t want to see him, the father of her four children, and the breadwinner of the house, to go to jail.
“He’s my husband no matter what,” she said, “e most important…anyting between my husband, e always run up by e mudda.”
“Leave your mother and father and keep your wife, cling onto her…you understand that? The pastor told you that when you got married some years ago right?” Burnett told the defendant.
On the matter of the husband being the breadwinner, the Magistrate commented, “That is the problem. When the man is the breadwinner, the woman suffers, and she has to take the abuse because she does not know where the next meal is coming from. That is…that would depress anybody…any court, any magistrate.”
The magistrate asked Prosecutor Corlene Samuel what she suggested, and she informed that the wife said she was open to counselling.
Attorney Grant Connell’s views were also sought in the difficult matter, and he stated “I’m actually married for 15 years… I have absolutely no experience in that department so I really can’t speak to that…neither am I the main breadwinner…but it’s very, very unfortunate…but a situation like this I think needs to be dealt with,” he began.
The magistrate said that he thought so too, but that the wife had informed him that she doesn’t want him to do anything.
“Love is blind. If that continues, and he goes back in that house tonight, we’ll be dealing with a more serious crime tomorrow,” Connell returned.
“As it is, there’s no place for her to go, there’s no safe house, the police can’t provide adequate protection, so she is open to savages like this,” the lawyer said, saying that these incidents were an everyday occurrence.
He ended by saying, “If I was sitting there, he wouldn’t touch her again after he’s got my sentence.”
The battle will continue for Burnett over the next two weeks, as he informed that he would remand the defendant until August 27, in order to make a decision. He told the wife that this would give her time to look for somewhere else to live, as she said she wanted to.