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Bruce-Lyle: No man has any right to beat a woman – Free to go!

Bruce-Lyle: No man has any right to beat a woman – Free to go!

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Lisa Ballantyne broke down in tears as she left the prisoner’s box, after Justice Frederick Bruce-Lyle said what could be considered five magic words – “You are free to go.”{{more}}

The mother of three wept quietly as she made her way from the High Court in Kingstown on the last day of the 2011 assizes, after spending one year and nine months behind bars on remand for the stabbing death of her common-law husband Delano David on March 2, 2010, at Campden Park.

Originally charged with murder, Ballantyne, 30, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter, following which the court heard of a history of domestic abuse she had suffered at the hands, and sometimes feet, of the deceased.

According to Ballantyne’s statement to police, she had known the deceased, also known as ‘Twelve Tribe’, for as long as she could remember; and the two had started a relationship when she resided on the Grenadine island of Bequia.

On encouragement from David, Ballantyne moved into his home, and the abuse which had started before then continued, which resulted in her suffering a broken hand, numerous head wounds, cuts and bruises.

Reports to the police and arrests of David never made their way to the courts, as Ballantyne would refrain from taking the matter further, upon coaxing from David.

Ballantyne, according to her statement, had on occasions attempted to leave the home she shared with David, but because of the unavailability of somewhere to stay, had no choice to return to his home.

On the day before she killed David, she had sought a house to rent at Lowmans Hill and was making arrangements to move to that place.

Early on the morning of March 2, David and Ballantyne had an argument over a number of things, among them, her getting his daughter ready for school.

The court heard that David armed himself with a knife and a cutlass, and made threats to kill Ballantyne; in response to which Ballantyne proceeded to arm herself with a knife.

A struggle ensued, and David suffered a burn to his right hand and a stab wound to his left side, which caused him to bleed to death.

Ballantyne surrendered herself to police and was subsequently charged.

Ballantyne’s lawyer Stephen Williams, who mitigated on her behalf, pointed out that his client was a victim of ‘Battered Woman Syndrome’, and that Justice Bruce-Lyle should take that into consideration, along with the fact that she turned herself into the police and in the past had made reports of abuse to the police.

Justice Bruce Lyle, somewhat agreeing with Williams, took into consideration that Ballantyne had made reports to the police, but rebuked the woman for not carrying through with the cases.

“That is a mistake you made for not taking it to court. You have to blame yourself for dropping the cases.”

Justice Bruce-Lyle also said that he believed that Ballantyne was trying to get out of the relationship, which he said women should do ‘If you can’t take it anymore’.

The judge also refused to take into consideration Ballantyne’s 2004 conviction for a stabbing incident, and before sending her on her way, he had a few stern words on the issue of abuse.

“No man has any right to beat a woman. There is too much woman battering going on, and it must stop.”

“It’s a pity someone has lost a life (but) he was the architect of his own demise.”

“Having taken all this into consideration, you are free to go.”

With that, the courtroom, mostly filled with jurors, senior police officials and court staff burst into applause as Ballantyne left the dock and sat with her head down, crying on a bench at the back of the court, before being escorted to Her Majesty’s Prisons, where she was officially discharged.

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