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Woman pleads guilty to setting man ablaze

Woman pleads guilty to setting man ablaze


A Byera woman who threw strong rum on a man and then lit him afire has until July 31 to come up with $18,000. In default, she will go to prison for seven years.

On Wednesday at the High Court, Pearline “Sally” Shallow, 42, a shopkeeper of Byera, pleaded not guilty to wounding Donald Anderson with intent on November 19, 2006. Under instructions by her lawyer Ronald Marks, Shallow later changed her plea to guilty to a lesser charge of wounding.

When the visibly scarred Anderson took the witness box, he said that he and his friend Radcliffe Joseph went to a “block-o” at Black Point and were having a nice time. The young mason said that he left the “block-o” about 10pm and went to Shallow’s shop in Byera.

While there, Anderson said he went to the window of the shop and called for a “pitty” of strong rum. “I stop by the window and call fo de rum from Pearline and she come down off de stool that she was standing on packing some stuff,” said Anderson. He said when she came down from the stool, she took a juice cup from under the counter and placed it on top. “I see she come from behind the counter and tek de cup and throw way wah been in it on me and it smelled like rum, then she light me ah fire with ah cigarette lighter,” Anderson went on to say.

With everyone’s eyes glued on him, Anderson continued to recall the events of the fateful night. He said he tried several times to put out the fire with his hands but was unable to do so. “De fire been coming from me waist upwards and I run to the pipe in front she shop, but de fire started to blaze more so I had to tek off me shirt and run in the river nearby to out the fire,” he said. After the fire was out Anderson was rushed to the Colonaire and Cedars Clinics, then to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, where he spent a month. “Me never had anything with Sally,” Anderson said while raising his t-shirt to reveal the permanent scars left by the burns.

Cross-examining Anderson, defense counsel Marks put it to the Anderson that he was intoxicated that night and didn’t even know what took place. In responding, Anderson said that he only drank two Guinness stouts that night and had gone to the shop to buy a pint of rum but was not drunk.

In Radcliffe Joseph’s evidence, he said both of them were drinking Guinness at the “block-o” and they weren’t drunk at anytime that night. He said while standing in the yard (of the shop) he saw Anderson on fire, running and screaming.

A plea of mitigation by Marks revealed Shallow’s side of the story. Marks said that his client was the subject of a nasty rumor that was being spread around the Byera community. Marks told the court that one day Shallow said she was doing laundry when she noticed some of her underwear missing and later heard that Anderson was going around the community with them bragging that he had an intimate relationship with her.

Marks said the rumors were causing conflict between Shallow and her boyfriend to the point where she told Anderson not to come around the shop or have nothing to do with her. He added that on the night of the incident, Shallow said the defendant was intoxicated and demanded the rum while verbally abusing her. “All of the provocation, my Lord, caused her to have a momentary lapse to do what she did,” Marks said. The young attorney also said that Shallow acted out of character and displayed anger because of Anderson’s slander. He added that Shallow has an 11 year-old niece who is completely dependent on her.

Presiding Judge, Frederick Bruce-Lyle described what Shallow did as a wicked act. “I should really send you to prison, but you are lucky you changed your plea and the DPP accepted it,” said Bruce-Lyle.

Justice Bruce-Lyle said he did not believe when Shallow said she lit him and did not know it was going to cause a big blaze. “If you felt he was slandering you, the court is here, report the matter. What will happen to that child if I send you to prison?” the judge asked.

Anderson was called back to the dock and asked if he wanted compensation now, but he replied, “I don’t know what is the right decision to make.” Justice Bruce-Lyle told him that he has to apply for compensation at another time in the High Court. (KW)