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Man acquitted on charge of grievous bodily harm which left his cousin paralysed

Man acquitted on charge of grievous bodily harm which left his cousin paralysed

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A jury has acquitted Sabintto Clarke of Diamond Village who raised the issue of self defence to the charge that he caused a 34-year-old man to fall over a 30ft bank and receive injuries leading to quadriplegia. 

 Konato Butler was paralysed from the neck down due to spinal cord injuries from his fall. He lived in this condition from January 19, 2019 to September 2, 2020, when he died.
Clarke faced a jury at the High Court last week, charged with the offence of grievous bodily harm with intent. Representing him in his defence were counsels Jomo Thomas and Shirlan ‘Zita’ Barnwell.

 On the side of the prosecution was crown counsel Maria Jackson-Richards. 

The prosecution had the burden of proving Clarke’s guilt, and in order to do so, they would have had to satisfy the jury so that it felt sure that the defendant was guilty. 

The jury is always instructed that, as per the law, the accused is not the one that has to prove his/her innocence. 

In this case, while Butler chose to remain silent during the interview (recorded electronically) that he had with the police shortly after the incident; he gave his version of events before the court last week. The reason he hadn’t revealed his story before was because his lawyers had advised him not to do so at that point, he said. 

The incident happened outside of “Keisha’s shop”, where cards and dominoes were being played. A number of persons supposedly witnessed events surrounding the exchange, and the aftermath. 

 According to Clarke, he was one of the patrons at the shop on January 19, 2019. He bought a beer, and was playing cards. He saw Butler lying on a table in the shop, and then saw him go outside. Clarke eventually also went outside and apparently saw Butler sleeping on the ground next to “dog mess”. As a result of this, he told the sleeping man to get up. 

Clarke was leaving the area to go to his girlfriend’s house nearby when Butler called to him, he said, and told him to come here. He did so, and Butler placed his arms on his shoulder. Clarke asked Butler if he was okay, and Butler said that he was, so Clarke asked him to take his hands away from his shoulder so that he could leave. He said that he was about to leave again when two persons passed and they called out to him and he responded. Butler, who Clarke said is his cousin, was not standing with his back to Clarke at that time, and so he had to turn around to punch him in the side. “Stab your motherc*** and kill you” Butler apparently said to his cousin. However, he was not seen with a knife or weapon on him. 

Clarke said he eased away, and Butler approached him aggressively, repeating the words. Clarke was fanning him off with his T-shirt, he said, when his cousin rushed at him. Clarke apparently punched at him and pushed him off. 

After this Butler fell off the bank.

The defendant explained during questioning that Butler was intoxicated, lost his balance and fell. 

Clarke told the court that he had known his cousin all his life, they were “blood family” and “cool” and never had any problems before.

He also said that he didn’t provoke him on that day. 

He and two other guys went to get Butler from the bank, he claimed. When he was waiting for a family vehicle to take Butler to the hospital, he ran home for a quick shower. 

Clarke said he visited his cousin at the hospital the Monday following the incident and Butler was happy to see him. Clarke further recounted that he asked Butler how he got there, and Butler said that he didn’t know. The injured man began to cry, and said nothing more to him. Clarke said he was sorry for Butler’s pain, and that he never had any intention to hurt anyone. 

A factor in the case was also the mental state of Butler. He was known to have had issues with this in his lifetime, and has had a nervous breakdown before. Nevertheless, one person who was at Keisha’s shop said while he knows Butler to act “crazify” sometimes, he was not acting that way on that day. 

 The shop keeper confirmed Butler to have been sleeping, and to have moved outside to sleep on the ground. She believed him to be intoxicated. She said that she saw what seemed like a playful interaction between the two, when Clarke swung his T-shirt at Butler telling him to get up. She concentrated on her cards after that. 

Another witness, Zimroy Charles, said he saw Clarke swing his T-shirt and tell Butler to wake up and go home. After this he said Butler seemed angry and rushed at Clarke, and Clarke was fending him off with one or two boxes, before he rushed at him again and Clarke supposedly held him by the throat and pushed him. 

Another witness claimed to see them hitting each other, and said Butler was “backing back” towards the bank. He said that Butler reached the edge and fell, but before he did so, Clarke touched his chest and it was then that the fall happened. 

Witnesses did not mention seeing Clarke as one of the guys who retrieved the injured cousin, but they did say that he took him to the hospital. 

Butler was seen as breathing heavily while at the bottom of the bank, and is said not to have been speaking at the time. 

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