G’town man apologizes to victim’s relatives
“IF I COULD HAVE bring him back I would, but I can’t. And I’m sorry.”
These were the words of a 28-year-old man as he faced possible prison time for stabbing a 40-year-old man to death; an act he did after getting into a tussle with the older man, who had earlier attacked his family members.
Antonio Simon himself chose to express his apology to the family members of the deceased, asking his counsel Israel Bruce if he could be given an opportunity to speak to the court.
Simon informed that it was never his intention to take the life of fellow villager, Vancito ‘Cito’ Balcombe of Langley Park, Georgetown.
Last Thursday, December 3, speaking very quietly into the microphone while looking up at Justice Brian Cottle who was about to deliver his sentence, Simon explained “it is when he grab me and he tell me I will chop you up like how I chop up your sister.”
Simon said that he would like to express his “humble apology” to Balcombe’s family.
“The court has heard Mr Simon himself expressing his own remorse as to what happened,” his lawyer stated, asking that the court “be mindful also of his public expression of remorse in this matter.”
Bruce also asked the court to consider that his client, who he cited as a “prime candidate for rehabilitation”, would not have received a “short, sharp shock” since the offence. Instead, the young man with a hitherto clean criminal record, had received a “relatively long sharp shock,” having been in prison for nearly four years since the December 21, 2016 incident.
Simon was a student of the Georgetown Secondary School, where, although he did not pass the secondary school entrance examination, he had succeeded in attaining five o’levels at a general proficiency level, and two at a basic proficiency.
He is the sixth of eight children, and grew up in a single parent home much of the time.
Simon has worked in the areas of construction and security. “In fact he works as a carpenter and he had found employment in Canouan up to the time when this offence was actually committed,” his counsel said.
Bruce submitted that from the facts, one could see why a guilty plea for manslaughter by reason of provocation was accepted by the prosecution, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Karim Nelson.
“We submit that it is clear that the deceased man was in an aggressive mode for the better part of that afternoon and that is appears further that that aggression was fueled by the consumption of a liquid of a particular type,” the lawyer stated.
He submitted that from the evidence of the cousin of the deceased man, as well as others, Balcombe attacked the stepfather of Simon.
At the end of his submissions, Bruce asked the Justice to temper justice with mercy in the circumstances.
According to the agreed facts, stated by the judge, Balcombe was at home at the time of the incident. ‘Cito’, as he was also known, had two daughters, and the grandfather of his daughters, who is also Simon’s stepfather, came along the nearby public road. He spoke to one of his granddaughters.
Balcombe objected to this and took his daughter into the house. When Balcombe returned, he approached Simon’s stepfather, and assaulted him, injuring his mouth. A short time afterwards, Simon’s sister arrived by the yard, and
remained in the public road.
Once again, Balcombe approached her, but this time he pushed Simon’s sister, causing her to fall to the ground.
On hearing what had happened to his stepfather, Simon, who had been in his house cutting pork, left immediately to go to the scene. While on his way, he said he realized the knife was still in his hand, and so he pocketed it. He said that when he arrived on the scene, he saw Balcombe beating his sister, and asked him why. At that point, he was punched by the 40-yearold man, and he returned the blow. After this, Balcombe grabbed onto Simon’s shirt, pulling him into the yard. It was at this point that the young man took out the knife and stabbed Balcombe several times.
Some time after being taken to the Georgetown Health Centre, Balcombe succumbed to these stabs.
On Thursday, Justice Cottle, in listing the facts about the young man, also noted, “His conduct after the offence tells me that he is a good candidate for rehabilitation.” Simon had turned himself in to the police on the same evening of the offence, telling them he had been in a fight with Balcombe and stabbed him.
Cottle related what Simon said to him that morning, and acknowledged that he had “expressed his remorse in sincere terms” and was a “young man who made a terrible error in judgment in a difficult situation.”
However, he said, “a human life has been taken and remains a serious criminal infraction.”
He began at the Court of Appeal’s benchmark for manslaughter, which is 15 years. He then weighed aggravating and mitigating factors; of which there were more mitigating.
The judge chose to move downwards to ten years.
One third of ten years, was taken away for the guilty plea, to arrive at a sentence of six years, nine months.
Justice Cottle also deducted two years for the “extreme provocation” Simon faced on the date he committed the crime.
Since the offence the young man has spent three years, 11 months and 10 days on remand in the jail, and this too was subtracted.
From last Thursday, he had one year and 20 days left of his sentence.