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Young woman who slashed college student scolded, fined

Young woman who slashed college student scolded, fined
Chante James


The finale of the court case against the 20-year-old who decided to become a criminal when she aimed her knife at the face of a college student, left both parties subdued.

Chante James, an Old Montrose resident, had been in prison for seven days and seven nights before she was brought to the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court to be properly sentenced last Friday.

The decision to imprison her before sentencing was taken by Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett after he found that there was enough evidence to convict James for wounding Sakiana John on March 28.

Representing the defendant was attorney Carlos James, who started by saying that the defendant was of a “youthful age,” and asked that the magistrate consider her prospects.

“She understands the severity of the matter,” the defense attorney said, and that, although the defendant felt as though she was defending herself, she understood that the injuries were serious, and that the situation could have been worse.

He said that the one week of remand, “enlightened her to the seriousness of the offence,” and that she expressed remorse for burdening the court, and the injuries caused.

The defense attorney went back to the issue of age, reminding that the court’s position on youthful offenders is that it should be mindful not to disturb their prospects. It was stated that it was the defendant’s first offence.

“The defendant indicated to me she is serious about advancing her education,” Carlos James stated, “She is currently enrolled in evening classes and it is my submission that a custodial would deter such prospects.”

He also argued that the defendant, according to the facts, did not approach the complainant but that she was standing at a bus stop, and that “she herself was publicly shamed,” on social media.

On his suggestion for sentencing, the lawyer was of the opinion that his client had learnt her lesson from her one week stint at Her Majesty’s Prison, and that a fine or suspended sentence could instead be considered.

Prosecutor Corlene Samuel was also asked for her representations before sentencing. Samuel indicated that “Prosecution is aware” that it is the defendant’s first offence, but that St Vincent needed to be looked at on a whole, and the fact that crimes are being committed by young persons aged 18,19 and 20.

She countered Carlos James’ suggestion that the crime was not planned, by saying that there was evidence that it was premeditated, as she carried the knife with her for the reason that she felt threatened.

“Remorse – it’s not there,” the prosecutor saying that she’s not seeing that from the defendant, verbally or through her actions.

Samuel was looking at a custodial sentence to be imposed.

Burnett addressed the defendant, and told her that he had sent her to prison for one week to show how serious the matter was, and “for you to know that what you did was wrong…what could have happened to you if you killed her…because that was possible.”

He said to James that she should realize that the knife was also in the hands of the complainant, and she did nothing with it.

“I hope you learnt your lesson,” the magistrate said. He commented that it was always a painful thing to sentence a first time offender. He further commented that it seems that persons are departing from the values that he was taught when he was younger.

The senior magistrate chose to fine her $5000, to be paid on March 29, 2019, coincidentally, a year and a day after she wounded John.

The defendant seemed devoid of the attitude she had the previous week, and walked away from court without looking back, even as someone who seemed related to her called her name multiple times. The complainant seemed to be similarly subdued.