Man with history of mental illness jailed for manslaughter
Although having been diagnosed with Cannabis Use Disorder with psychotic symptoms, an Ottley Hall resident continued to smoke about 30 spliffs per week, and had been using the drug at the time he shot and killed another resident.
Thirty-four-year old Ivan Ragguette was sentenced at the High Court last Friday, December 4, for the offences of manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility, and the possession of an unlawful firearm with intent to commit an offence.
Justice Brian Cottle read the accepted facts agreed upon by prosecution, crown counsels Renée Simmons and Allana Cumberbatch, and the defence, Stephen Williams.
On April 26, 2016, Carlos ‘Bop’ Richardson, a 36-year-old of Ottley Hall met an untimely end. On that day, Richardson went to the home of one Shank Baptiste to get his cutlass sharpened. Leaving the cutlass at Baptiste’s home, he walked towards a nearby area where Ragguette was carrying some blocks intended for a construction project.
“Bystanders heard loud explosions and when they approached the area where (Ragguette) had been working, the body of Mr Richardson was seen lying in the street,” with gunshot injuries, Cottle stated.
Ragguette was seen fleeing the scene with a gun.
Richardson was found to have been shot in the back. The post mortem examination found several pellets recovered from the area of his lungs, and surrounding tissue.
In an interview two days after, Ragguette admitted to shooting Richardson, saying that he did so because the deceased wanted to chop him and his brother up.
Ragguette was also interviewed by Dr Karen Providence, a registrar in psychiatry at the Mental Health Centre.
“…This was because the prisoner had a history of having been treated at this institution. In 2006, and again in 2010, he had been admitted to the Mental Health Centre,” the judge noted.
Ragguette had been diagnosed with Cannabis Use Disorder with psychotic symptoms, and was treated and discharged from the institution. However, following this he would attend the mental health centre periodically.
In the interview following the shooting, Ragguette’s urine toxicology test was positive for cannabinoids, and he himself admitted to having smoked the drug the day he carried out the act.
The Ottley Hall man had told the doctor that “evil spirits resided in Ottley Hall, and they were responsible for the crime taking place in the village.”
“Those spirits would be seen walking up and down. Some dressed in uniform and carrying guns,” the judge read.
“Some spirits often would climb into mango trees and throw the unripe fruit to the ground,” Ragguette had told her.
He was also of the belief that the villagers were “fighting him down”, and that his brother suffers from this as well. He thought that they placed Obeah on his land.
Ragguette also confessed to being suicidal, and feeling unloved.
After Richardson’s death, Dr Providence continued to treat and evaluate Ragguette over a period of time, until December 2019, when “he was found to be alert and well oriented to person, place and time. He reported that the antipsychotic medication he had been prescribed was making him feel better.”
Without any recent auditory and visual hallucinations, he was deemed fit to participate in his defence at a trial.
For the offence of manslaughter the maximum possible sentence is 30 years, and for possession of an unlawful firearm with intent to commit an offence, 25 years.
Factors that the judge took into account include: Ragguette’s guilty plea to the new indictment, the cooperation with the police in confessing the crime and taking them to where he threw the bag containing the firearm (the bag was found but the firearm wasn’t), his mental status, and that last conviction was in 2010.
The judge began at the starting point of 15 years, as set by the Court of Appeal for manslaughter cases.
The offence is aggravated by the fact that the attack was unprovoked, the victim was unarmed and caught unawares, the weapon used to shoot him was never recovered because “the prisoner disposed of it in a manner which allowed for it to be removed by anyone from the place where the prisoner had discarded it.”
It was not mitigated by any factors.
In the case of Ragguette, the offender, the aggravating characteristics are that “Long before the date of the offence the prisoner had been diagnosed with cannabis use disorder with psychotic symptoms” and attended the psychiatric outpatients clinic periodically.
“Despite his knowledge of his condition, he continued to use cannabis at a rate of about 30 spliffs per week. He reported smoking cannabis on the very morning of the offence.”
Using guidance in cases in law from the United Kingdom, the notion is that when the offender exacerbates his condition by voluntarily using drugs, and failing to follow medical advice, the responsibility is increased.
“He abused cannabis and he clearly did not adhere to the advice that he would have been given at the Mental Health Centre. The effect of this is that the aggravating features outweighed the mitigating features,” Cottle concluded.
He moved from 15 years to 16 years. After the reduction of the guilty plea the final sentence was 10 years and eight months.
Of this sentence, four years and seven months subtracted, as Ragguette has already spent this time on remand waiting for the outcome of his matter.
After last Friday, he has a remaining six years and one month to spend in prison.
For the second offence, he was sentenced to five years and five months in prison, to run concurrently to the first offence.