Robber given a second chance after victim asks for leniency
A young man sobbed as he was given a second chance last week Thursday, after the man whom he robbed some years ago asked the court to be lenient in sentencing him.
Akeem Laidlow had two streams of tears moving down his face on Thursday, December 3, as the sentence of the court was explained to him.
He was ultimately sentenced to three years in prison, to be suspended for three years, “on condition that over the next three years the prisoner should not commit any offence punishable by more than six months imprisonment,” Justice Brian Cottle concluded.
Therefore, Laidlow was free to walk out of the dock, and free from his shackles. He walked outside the court, hugging a young woman tightly while sobbing.
Robbery can attract a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, and sentences of over five years of incarceration could not be said to be uncommon at the High Court.
In this case, Laidlow, a father of two young children, had been on remand in prison for two months and 21 days.
“You should say a word of gratitude to the virtual complainant in this matter because without him I would have imposed a sentence of six years and three months,” the Justice told the emotional prisoner.
At sentencing the court begins with the mitigation by defense counsel, if the convicted person is legally represented, or if not, the offendor will have an opportunity to speak to the court themselves.
In this case, Laidlow acquired the legal services of counsel Karl Williams. It was after he did so that he changed the plea he had entered initially, from a not guilty plea to a guilty plea.
However, Laidlow had accepted responsibility since 2017, admitting in an interview with the police after he was arrested that he was one of the robbers.
Williams informed the court that his client had continuously expressed remorse since the commission of the offence.
The court has recently created specific sentencing guidelines for judges, and Williams had submitted that his client’s case fell in the lowest category of harm and culpability according to these guidelines.
In doing so, he commented that there was no weapon used, and the force used was minimal, being a scuffle and search.
The victim, Andrae Kydd of Murray’s Village, had expressed that his life was changed on many levels, to the extent that he cannot trust anyone, and is no longer socializing at nights.
“He is hoping my lord, like almost every human being, that he lives in peace without fear, after all this,” Williams said. However, he submitted that, “If Mr Kydd has been dealt with any subsequent psychological harm, I will submit that such psychological harm was in fact minimal,” further pointing out an absence of physical harm.
His client has no previous convictions and has not offended since this robbery. There was no evidence of significant planning, and it was a “spur of the moment” crime, of which Laidlow “played a minor role.”
Laidlow was charged along with one Nigel Cain of Rockies.
Williams said that his client has shown determination to turn his life around, and has not associated with his co-offender since.
“I respectfully submit that this offence was not motivated by greed or a desire for luxury but appears rather to be motivated by genuinely desperate circumstances,” the counsel stated.
He noted that Laidlow’s girlfriend was pregnant and they were in need of funds for an upcoming ultrasound.
The lawyer’s final submission was that the court give Laidlow a second chance to redeem himself.
The prosecution was represented by Crown Counsels Renee Simmons and Maria Jackson, who informed that Kydd was present in court that morning.
Laidlow’s sentencing did not take place until the afternoon.
Simmons said that Kydd had come because his desire was to let the court know that he is requesting that leniency be shown to Laidlow; but he had to leave because he received an emergency call about his son.
She acknowledged that it was only her word before the court that he had communicated this to them, but the Justice said that when counsel tells him something from the bar table, he would accept it as the truth until something demonstrates that the person cannot be relied on.
After a pause the judge then began his sentencing, firstly providing the accepted version of what happened on the said date.
At around 8pm on November 2, Kydd and another person were walking along the Richmond Hill public road. When they reached near the tennis court, two masked men emerged from behind a bar, one of whom had his hand concealed inside of a bag. He appeared to be holding a pistol inside of this. The man with his hand in a bag threatened to shoot Kydd, as the other searched his pockets. A white Samsung cellular phone, and a wallet containing identification cards were taken from the virtual complainant.
The wallet did not contain anything the robbers thought valuable, and was discarded, and Kydd told to pick it up.
The two escaped on foot.
Cain was stopped and searched by the police on November 17, on the same date that he robbed Latisha Williams of Rockies, and he was found in possession of cellular phones. He admitted that he and Laidlow were responsible for the earlier robbery of Kydd.
Although the judge agreed that the offence falls in the lowest category for harm, he placed it in the highest category of seriousness because it was a group activity and an imitation firearm or firearm was used to threaten.
He began at a sentence of 13 years and six months, and after considering other factors, such as those named by Williams, he moved down to 10.
From this one third of the sentence was subtracted for a guilty plea.
However, Cottle noted, “The virtual complainant has expressed a desire that the prisoner be shown leniency, I will pay attention to that desire”, before delivering his final sentence.