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A single bullet changes teenager‘s life forever

A single bullet changes teenager‘s life forever

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Sweet-I Robertson had everything going for her. She was always a person on the go. She was top of her class, participated in almost every sporting activity and, and like most other teenagers, had dreams of becoming successful.{{more}}

But, a single bullet to her neck on October 30, 2009, paralysed her progress —literally!

Now forced to use a wheelchair for, perhaps, the rest of her life, the simplest of tasks for Robertson is now her biggest hurdle.

With her dreams shattered, Robertson, in one word, summed up her life since the incident: “Depressing.”

Robertson was shot while on her way home from a heritage pageant at the Petit Bordel Secondary School (PBSS) around 2 a.m.

After the show, there was an argument between Lesroy DeGrads and some other men, which later saw Robertson being caught in the crossfire.

On Wednesday at the close of the High Court’s Criminal Assizes, 23-year-old Shelton Hooper was sentenced to five years imprisonment for wounding Robertson, 19, of Chateubelair.

However, Shelton, his brother, Sheldon, 28, and their cousin, Roland, 26, were all sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for the attempted murder of Degrads.

A nine-member jury found the men guilty on their respective charges last month.

Shelton was sentenced to five years hard labour on two more charges of possession of firearm with intent and unlawful use of firearm.

When she testified, Robertson told the court that, following the argument between DeGrads and Sheldon, the latter then made a telephone call and told someone to “bring the thing; the whole crew is down here”.

Minutes later, Sheldon’s brother, Shelton, along with their cousin Roland, appeared with two firearms.

The court heard that Sheldon then went to Roland, took the gun from him and fired at DeGrads. His brother also fired shots in the area of the school where the crowd was exiting.

Robertson, who was on her way home, attempted to run, but was shot.

She was a fifth form student of the PBSS at the time.

She said: “Cattleman (Sheldon) and Lesroy was going to fight. I see Lesroy run for a bottle and then I run out of the road. Cattleman went down to the first gap and came back with something in a white hat … It was a gun.

“He pull it out and fire and the shot caught me the same time in my neck. I was paralysed and couldn’t move,” she testified.

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT outside the courthouse following the sentencing on Wednesday, Robertson said she just wanted to live her life.

Asked if she was upset at those involved for causing her present state, she replied “No”, and added that she has forgiven them.

She said that the most difficult part of being paralysed is the fact that she can’t help herself.

“I used to be involved in sports — netball, football, cheerleading and different activities; now I can’t do that anymore…” she added.

Using a red rag to wipe the beads of sweat that had settled on her nose and forehead, Robertson said “Being in this position has made me a stronger person.”

Last year, Robertson wrote five CXC subjects. And although someone had to scribe for her, she passed four of those subjects and received a Grade 1 in mathematics.

Robertson, barely cracking a smile, said she is just looking forward to getting better and believes that she will walk again.

Meanwhile, her sister, Racquel Robertson, explained that since the incident, life, not only for her sister, but for the entire family, has been difficult.

Racquel, a teacher at the Petit Bordel Secondary School, said Sweet-I lives with her, along with her son and younger sister.

“It is difficult to get up in the night, because every night, she calls out for me to give her some water or turn her on the bed,” she said.

Robertson said there have been times when she was not able to make it to school or would arrive late, just because she has to take care of her sister’s every need.

“Since this happen with Sweet-I, my younger sister never passed again in school. Ever since this thing, the child keep failing, failing and she is in grade six now,” Racquel told SEARCHLIGHT shortly after the sentencing.

Robertson said it has also been a struggle financially and said that no one is coming to their assistance.

She said they receive $200 in Public Assistance, but said it is still hard.

“Mummy is not working. She does her little farming and so on. So you know, it puts a strain on me, because she (Sweet-I) can’t do anything for herself.”

Roberston said Sweet-I had suffered another major setback in her life, when her father died before her first examination.

“Sweet-I was depressed and was not eating at all.

“She was just not doing anything. When she saw other children in their college clothes, she would make a comment and I know she feels bad,” Robertson added.

Had it not been for the senseless act, Sweet-I could have been entering her final year at the Community College.

Racquel described the incident as a “major setback” and told SEARCHLIGHT:

“Sometime, she (Sweet-I) would just lay there and just cry and when I ask her what happen, she would just say, ‘Life! I can’t tek on this no more’.”

At one point, Racquel said her sister was even telling God to take her life.

She added that they have had to call in the school’s counsellor to help Sweet-I from time to time.

Sweet-I is attempting to re-sit English literature, which she had failed.

Attorney Carlos James mitigated on the men’s behalf and Justice Wesley James handed down the sentences.

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