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Two robbers get long jail sentences

Two robbers get long jail sentences
FROM LEFT: Kendol Cato and Curt John leaving the High Court

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by KATHERINE RENTON

THE SOLE Breadwinner of a family was forced to sell six of his sheep at an undervalued price when he could no longer work after being shot in the leg by robbers, one of whom was a criminal deportee from Canada.

Now, the two men found guilty by jury trial of executing the crimes, namely Curt John and Kendol Cato, must spend 13 years and four months, and 12 years in prison, respectively.

These were their longest sentences, as they were convicted of robbery, wounding with intent, and possession of a firearm with intent to commit an offence.

The court has established that on November 25, 2015, the victim, Shawayne Smith was walking in an area near the Georgetown cemetery at nine in the morning. As he walked, he realized that Curt John, who he knew well, was standing in front of him. Then, a masked man brandishing a gun emerged from the bushes nearby, and told him to give up everything he had.

Smith said that he realized that the two were working together when, John, who remained standing there, asked him if he didn’t hear what the man said to him.

Smith handed over what he had to John but he decided to fight back, and got into a struggle with the masked gunman, which resulted in the masked man discharging the gun he was holding. The first shot caught Smith in his leg, but the gunman discharged the firearm yet another time. However, this missed Smith.

A chase then ensued as the gunman fled. The assailant discarded his mask and gun as he went, allowing Smith to recognize him. However, although Smith said he almost caught up with his assailant on a bridge, he was overcome in that moment by weakness caused by his injury and Cato got away.

The injured Smith was assisted, and he told the police who was responsible for the attack on him.

The mask, gun and coat worn by Cato were later recovered by law enforcement.

Smith was treated at the Georgetown Hospital, and a bullet lodged in his leg had to be surgically removed.

In writing to the court, he said that he was very frightened by the incident, and thought that he would lose his leg.

He said that it “caused a strain on his family and his girlfriend came to see him, and he could see the pain in her face, and she had to run up and down to take care of him,” Justice Brian Cottle read.

Smith had to walk with crutches for two months. He cannot play football anymore, nor can he carry heavy loads. Further, Smith cannot walk to his mountain lands to plant, but must instead pay someone to spray his crops.

“As he was the sole breadwinner for his family and was unable to work when he was shot he had to sell six of his sheep to his neighbour. He sold them at an undervalued price out of desperation so he could take care of his family,” Cottle noted.

The two offenders denied and continued to deny up to sentencing on March 13, their involvement in the matter.

John is a 33-year-old deportee from Canada, according to information he gave to social workers who put together a report. He admitted to multiple crimes committed while he was in that country, where he had been since the age of nine. However, he did not remember the nature of the offences.

Since returning to St Vincent and the Grenadines at 28 years, John has been convicted for unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of ammunition without a license, and wounding with intent, and all within two years of his return.

The judge noted that there were persons in his community that were too afraid to comment on his character, or the case. “…And to my mind that speaks volumes as to his reputation in the village,” the justice stated.

However, “Ever since I’ve been back to St Vincent, I’ve had full support from my family and really and truly I was on the verge of turning my life around,” John insisted before the judge on March 13.

John explained that sending him to jail when he’s on the verge of rehabilitating himself, “is really gonna put me 10 steps back to what I’ve already accomplished in terms of building myself as a law abiding citizen.”

He said that he was asking for a second chance.

His co-accused, Cato, also stated that he was “begging for some mercy.”

“I always keep myself out of trouble from the time I was charged for this offence my lord,” he indicated.

Cato, now 23 years, was 19 at the time of the incident and had no previous convictions. He is about to become a father for the first time. However, he has a violent history from his school days and a reputation to some in his community of being a robber. Others declined to comment.

Cottle applied the sentencing guidelines on offences of dishonesty to the facts. Noting that there was physical harm caused, a firearm was used, two men acted together, and one disguised themselves. However, it was noted that while John had previous offences, Cato did not.

In the end, John was sentenced to 13 years and four months, while Cato was given a nine year prison sentence for robbery.

For wounding with intent, 12 year sentences were imposed, and for possession of a firearm with intent, a ten year incarceration term was handed down.

All sentences will run concurrently and the time that Cato and John had already spent in prison, 29 days, was deducted.

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