The woman who spent one week in prison while Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett decided her sentence for wounding a Community College student has managed to avoid more jail time.
Instead, Chante James, of Old Montrose, has been given until March 29, 2019 to pay the court EC$5,000 or to go jail for two years.
Last week Friday, Sept. 14, at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, Burnett found James guilty of wounding Sakina John during a March 28 incident in Kingstown.
The court heard that James, 20, used a knife to slash the student’s lips as well as inflict a wound to her cheek.
The two young women were involved in a protracted alteration that began after James befriended John on social media.
One week before the incident in Kingstown, James accosted John at the Villa campus of the Community College, but John ignored her.
However, on the day of the incident, John happened upon James in Kingstown and, after an exchange of words, James produced the weapon and used it to inflict the injuries.
After being injured, John was able to wrest the knife from James, and dropped it on the ground.
In mitigation, counsel Carlos James noted that his client is 20 years old and said her youthful age should be considered in sentencing.
He said that his client had indicated to him shortly before the sentencing that she knows the severity of the matter.
The convicted woman had further said that the week spent on remand had enlightened her about the seriousness of the matter, the lawyer said.
He said his client had expressed remorse.
The lawyer further said that his client plans to advance her education and hopes to attend college soon.
“She is enrolled in evening classes and my submission is that a suspended sentence would grant her such prospects to advance and become a model citizen of the state,” the lawyer argued.
He said the evidence shows his client did not go in search of the virtual complainant to attack her.
There was an issue on social media in which the defendant was put to shame, the lawyer said, referring to the nude photo of James that John had posted on social media.
The defendant’s face had been blotted out in the photograph and she, in turn, shared it on her social media accounts.
The lawyer said that when the incident occurred, his client was at a bus stop holding a child and this must be taken into consideration when sentencing.
“She is not known as someone to commit such offences and she’s not a threat to society and the week on remand has given her reasons to reflect and my submission is to give her a suspended sentence or a fine. I think she has learned her lesson from this experience” the lawyer said.
However, the magistrate noted that the lawyer had avoided the issue of compensation.
“Well, your honour, if you wish to order compensation, I am in favour,” the lawyer said.
In her submission, prosecutor Police Constable Corlene Samuel said that counsel had noted the defendant’s age and that it was her first offence.
The prosecutor, however, noted that in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on a whole, persons 18-20 years old commit many of the crimes.
“You’re saying this was not planned, counsel, but she walked with a knife,” the prosecutor noted.
“The remorse, you’re not seeing it through her demeanour,” the prosecutor further stated.
Samuel further noted that while James had quoted authority in the interest of a non-custodial sentence for his client, there is a virtual complainant in the matter.
“We looked at the weight of the crime, what was said and how it was done. It’s up to you, your honour, but take all this into consideration,” the prosecutor said.
The magistrate asked John is she wanted compensation and she said yes.
The magistrate noted that she also has an option of a civil suit against James.
At this point, the magistrate asked counsel Grant Connell, who has a watching brief in the matter, to dialogue with John.
John then told the court she was opting to seek compensation via a civil suit.
In handing down his sentence, the magistrate expressed his view on James’ crime.
“In my opinion, what you did was wrong, based on the findings, there was enough evidence to convict you,” he said.
“My intent in remanding you was to show you how the matter was for you and for you to know what you did was wrong and for you to know what happened or what could happen to you. As a young lady, think 1, 2, 3 times before you react.
“The knife was in the VC’s hand and she did nothing; she did not retaliate. It was a lesson for you as well as others who may have heard about your experience.”
Burnett said it is always a painful thing to sentence a young person or first-time offender.
“Sometimes we depart from values taught to us when we were young,” he said.
He further said that because of the nature of events and charge brought, he was minded to impose the sentence he handed down.
After the proceedings, the last for the day, Connell rose and congratulated the prosecutor on her conduct of the matter.