Violence against women is never to be condoned…! – Justice Cottle
“This court must emphasize that women are not chattels. Violence towards them is never to be condoned or excused.”
Justice Brian Cottle made this clear during the sentencing of Uroy “Muffin” Edwards, who chased after his girlfriend into her relative’s house, forcing his way inside with a scissors.
The Justice made his statement after observing that “the genesis of the altercation appears to have been jealousy, on the part of the prisoner for suspected infidelity.”
Crown counsel Rose-Ann Richardson, and defense attorney Shirlan “Zita” Barnwell representing Edwards (assisting the court), made submissions to the Justice before sentencing, and the court’s remarks would have been made on the foundation of information from them both.
Edwards pleaded guilty to the offence of aggravated burglary just before his trial was about to commence, and so it was established that on December 3, 2016, one Samuel James was at his home when he heard noises outside. Looking outside of the glass sliding door, he saw his step daughter, who was crouching, and who appeared to be hiding from someone.
She called to James to let her in, and he opened the door for her to run in, but before he could close it, Edwards appeared.
Both James and another occupant of the house tried to stop Edwards. James, who was by the door, tried to block Edwards from entering, but the invader threatened to stab him, and forced his way past him. Another occupant of the house demanded that Edwards leave, but he refused.
The angry Edwards, who was 29 years old at the time, apparently told those persons that he was looking for his girlfriend in order to give her “her share”.
Edwards found his girlfriend and dragged her outside, where it is alleged that he committed acts of violence against her.
In mitigation, Barnwell informed that her client was 32 years now, and came from a large family of nine. He is the sole breadwinner of his family, and she was told by Edwards that his mother is suffering from breast cancer.
“Mr Edwards, when he was 15 years old, witnessed the brutal chopping of his father, and his father subsequently died from the injuries at the hospital. He explained at the time he felt helpless,” and had been living with this trauma since, Barnwell explained.
She informed that her client and James are far from strangers, and the home was one frequented by Edwards. Barnwell indicated that it was unfortunate that, because of a domestic issue, Edwards should have lost control of his temper then.
She commented that although maturity in terms of age is considered during sentencing, that she would like to bring up the issue of emotional maturity, and the “inability to resolve conflict.”
“The reason why I raise it in this particular circumstance is the nature of the offence,” which is domestic, she said, and continued, “it is something that we deal with every day in our communities, and recognize why it is that men sometimes lose their temper and respond in violent ways when it is that they have issues dealing with romantic relationships.”
“We are socialized in a way that men are not taught how to deal with conflict, and to use power and force, sadly to resolve…it doesn’t resolve the conflict at all,” the lawyer reasoned.
She ended by noting that her client is not charged with assaulting anyone.
However, the court found it aggravating that the “genesis” of the breaking and entering with scissors, was jealousy. It also found it aggravating that it was forced entry into a dwelling place at night, that burglar was armed with a weapon that he threatened to use, and that he abducted a female in the house.
Cottle noted that Edwards had already spent a six month stint behind bars for wounding. “What is clear is that this prisoner has not learnt his lesson about the need to abjure violence as a means of conflict resolution,” he commented. However, Barnwell had earlier argued that this was conviction was spent, and Cottle indicated he would consider Edwards a first time offender.
For reason of no previous convictions, two years were taken away from the starting sentence of ten years.
With the discount for the guilty plea being applied, Edward’s final sentence was five years, and three months.