Medical students’ attackers jailed for 16 and 17 years
Two men who were part of an armed group that broke into the apartment of two medical students, stole from them, and forced them to perform sexual acts, will spend their youth in prison.
Atibon Campbell and Marlon Chance were found guilty by a unanimous verdict of the jury at the end of last year for two counts of aggravated burglary, two counts of indecent assault and two counts of possession of a firearm to aid in the commission of an offence.
Campbell was unrepresented during the trial, as well as during his sentencing on Wednesday, February 3. Chance was represented by counsel Jomo Thomas. Crown counsels John Ballah and Kaylia Toney represented the prosecution during the trial, which saw Skype evidence from at least one of the victims.
The trial surrounded an incident which occurred on March 1, 2017 at approximately 10:30 pm. Four men entered the apartment of two female medical students, citizens of the United States of America, with masks covering their faces, and in possession of guns and knives. During their unwelcome visit these men stole electronics and cash from the women and forced them to perform fellatio for a substantial duration by using the threat of their weapons. They locked the women in a bedroom before escaping.
The matter was reported and soon enough Campbell was arrested, while five months later Chance was arrested.
In his interview with the police, Campbell, 17 years old at the time, admitted to being on the scene but claimed to have remained outside while the others went into the apartment, and then carried the loot away. He took the police to his girlfriend, and instructed her to hand over a cell phone to them, which one of the victims identified as hers.
Chance, 23 years old, did not admit to anything.
Both men were identified by the women as being part of the group.
Following this incident, the medical students discontinued their studies. Both women were already victims or prior sexual violence, and “this new attack made their situation infinitely worse,” Justice Brian Cottle revealed, reading information from the victim impact statement.
“They were made to feel humiliated and degraded. The prisoners not only forced them to perform oral sex upon them but they ejaculated on the person and clothing of the complainants,” the Justice stated.
The fact that it was a group assault has also added to the trauma.
The image of St Vincent and the Grenadines has also been permanently tarnished in their mind.
While the indecent assault of adults allows for a maximum penalty of two years in prison, the possession of a firearm to aid in the commission of an offence may see a maximum of 25 years, and aggravated burglary; imprisonment for life.
On Wednesday, Campbell asked Justice Cottle to consider his age at the time, and also that he is a young man now and had made changes in his life.
He asked for leniency, saying, “I have a young yute who I ain even self know.”
He is one of many children for his mother, but the young man claimed that most of them live in Grenada, and he is the only one taking care of her. He said his mother’s ailment of the foot has gotten worse, and she isn’t eating properly.
In his life Campbell has been expelled from two schools for fighting and never completed his education. He never knew his father.
He has been in trouble with the law before, and there have been two occasions when he caused assault bodily harm to women.
When the social worker interviewed him before his sentencing, the young man admitted to the crime, saying that it was a spur of the moment crime. He admitted to shouting and brandishing a gun at the women, but said he did not take part in the indecent assault.
He spoke of the peer pressure and the environment he grew up in where criminal acts were the norm.
In mitigating for Chance, Counsel Thomas stated, “I must say that I have grave doubts about the safety of this conviction but that is for another time and place,” while noting that one of the young men faces serious charges without legal representation.
His client is 25 years old, dropped out of secondary school at form four, and has three children. Chance too had no connection with his father, and apparently has a heart ailment, although no evidence was provided for such.
He is a first time offender and was youthful, therefore, the counsel posited “he’s a prime candidate for rehabilitation.”
In the end it was for the crime of aggravated burglary that the two men received their longest sentences.
Justice Cottle placed this crime in the highest level of seriousness, and the highest level of culpability, according to the sentencing guidelines. This was because there was substantial degradation, force used, psychological harm, and emotional distress.
They stole laptops used by students. “The value of such laptops goes far beyond monetary worth as these devices contain fruits of countless hours of intense study,” the Justice stated.
He chose a starting point of 15 years, as 50 per cent of the maximum of 30 years of imprisonment.
Then there were the aggravating and mitigating features of the offence. These include that the identity of the intruders was concealed by masks, they were motivated by greed, in a group, and they came at night.
The sentence went up to 17 years.
While Campbell’s sentence stayed at 17 years, Chance’s was reduced by one year, to 16 years, in light of his previously clean criminal record and youth. For the counts of indecent assault, both men were sentenced to incarceration of 18 months, and 15 years for the possession of a firearm to aid in the commission of an offence.
Before this sentence, Campbell had already spent two months in prison in relation to the crimes, while Chance had spent 69 days. This will be subtracted from their final sentence.