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Men to pay compensation for wounding and robbery

Men to pay compensation for wounding and robbery
Left to Right: ADRIAN SHERMAN & CLIFTON WILLIAMS

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THE COURT HAS frowned upon the attitude of an offender who admitted to beating up a man because he knew of the said individual as being of a particular sexual orientation.

At the High Court last week, three young men faced up to 14 years imprisonment for the offence of unlawful and malicious wounding, and up to 30 years incarceration for robbery.

One of these men, Douglas Baptiste, who claimed he was never there on the night in question, has been acquitted of both crimes by decision of a jury last Wednesday, October 13.

Alongside him, Adrian ‘Thomas’ Sherman was found ‘not guilty’ of the offence of robbery, but he had already entered a guilty plea to the offence of wounding.

Clifton Williams admitted his guilt to both offences, and he never went through the process of a trial.

The victim in the matter is a Chef, who recalled his ordeal as happening between May 3 and 6, 2018.

He said that he worked until 6:p.m on Friday, after which he went to Heritage Square, where he stayed until around midnight. From there, he went to the Peace Memorial Hall to wait for a bus. While he waited, three men came up and started shoving their hands in persons’ pockets, he related, looking for money.

He said he stopped the man who was trying to reach into his pockets, and told them that he knew all of their faces from around the town.

After this, he walked up to Town Hill to move to another area to catch a bus. He had moved but five yards, he said, when he heard noises of running behind him, and saw three men running towards him. The one leading the group was carrying a Guinness bottle, and he broke this over the victim’s head. They all started kicking him, and the chef ended up in the gutter, where the stamping and kicking, including to his head, continued.

One of them apparently pulled off the canvas bag valued at $25 from his shoulders, which contained a variety of items worth $130, and they ran away laughing.

Bleeding from his head and face, the chef walked to the police station to make a report, and after this he was taken the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital where he is said to have received stitches for his wounds.

During the trial, Sherman recalled a day when he said he was playing ‘Grand Theft Auto five’ at a shop. The chef was also there, and at one point supposedly paid for him to continue playing. After ending his game, Sherman was walking on the street when the chef allegedly approached him and propositioned him. Apparently due to his tiredness and the fact that his shoulder was hurting Sherman did not “deal”/ beat him up then.

On the night of the incident, Sherman said he was picking up bottles. At the Peace Memorial Hall he was supposedly speaking to a friend when he saw the man who he claimed propositioned him. Sherman then said he conveyed to his friend that he was going to beat the man up because he was a homosexual.

The man had supposedly moved away when he saw Sherman. The defendant admitted to running and stamping the victim on his back, and slapping him. Sherman said they were fighting, when he saw two men coming but he didn’t know if the two men were running towards him. The two others joined him in hitting the man, to which Sherman claimed he told them he could handle it on his own.

However, Sherman said that the man they beat up did not have a bag with him.

The Prosecution in this case was represented by crown counsels Maria Jackson-Richards and Allana Cumberbatch.

On Friday, October 15, Williams was slated to be sentenced for the crime of robbery and wounding, while Sherman was to be sentenced for wounding. Laywer Jemalie John for Williams argued among other points, that his client is young, 24 years old, and has no previous convictions, co-operated with the police from the outset, is remorseful and willing to provide reparations to the victim.

He said that Williams has taken steps to rehabilitate

himself and has returned to living with his parents to assist with staying on the straight and narrow.

The counsel also made the point that his client works as a vendor in Kingstown, pushing a cart, and therefore is not of great means.

He asked that the court sees him as having good character.

On the matter of the wounding, John put forward that the injuries were minor, and the only evidence for psychological harm is that the victim was sometimes apprehensive.

Therefore, this was classified as having no long term impact, he posited.

In the end, he asked the court to put a heavy emphasis on rehabilitation considering the mitigating factors, and also reserving custodial sentences for cases where it may be deemed necessary so as not to overcrowd the prison during the time of COVID-19.

Sherman became emotional, asking that his life not be wasted in prison, and that he be given a sum of money that he would make sure to pay. He said he had apologised to the victim.

He also noted that it was his first offence, and asked for a chance.

Before contemplating matters over the weekend, Justice Brian Cottle impressed upon the offenders that the offences were serious.

“What is even more concerning is the underlying theme of these offences where the perceived sexual orientation of the virtual complainant played a part,” he said.

“It is not something that the court can turn a blind eye to…” or encourage, the Justice said.

“Persons in St Vincent and the Grenadines(SVG) regardless of their orientation, or perceived orientation, deserve to be allowed to live their lives in peace like everybody else.”

It is a sentiment often expressed by young men, who are also embracing the ideology contained in music from other Caribbean countries he explained, that persons of a particular sexual orientation “fi dead”.

That is not something that is to be encouraged in SVG at all, the Justice reiterated.

Nevertheless, Cottle did say that he was considering the submissions of John, who suggested they were sorry and were not going to repeat the offence. He said he was giving thought to not imposing a custodial sentence.

Yesterday, October 18, Cottle did not impose an immediate jail term.

Instead,in the case of robbery, he sentenced Williams to three years imprisonment, suspended for three years. Therefore he must not commit another offence punishable by over six months during this time or he will go to prison. Compensation of $155 was ordered.

For wounding, the two received sentences of two years in prison, suspended for three years. Conditional on this suspension is the payment of $1000 compensation within 90 days of October 18.

At that point Williams had already spent ten days on remand, and Sherman, five days, which would be subtracted.

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