Terrance “Yellow” Smith gestures as he is escorted back to prison last Friday. (iWN photo)

A Layou man has been sentenced to 13 years in jail for a stabbing attack on another resident of the Central Leeward town. 

High Court judge Justice Brian Cottle handed down the sentence on Terrance “Yellow” Smith, 36, on Friday.

On Feb. 27, 2019, a jury found Smith, who was unrepresented, guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

In mitigation, the man told the court that he has children who are suffering and have no one else to send them to school.

He said he was willing to pay a fine as punishment for his crime.

 “‘Cause jail ain’t nice. The food, nothing inside dey ain’t nice. But everything is left to you,” he said in his brief submission.

The facts of the case are that on Aug 18, 2016, Smith and the virtual complainant, Dwayne Joseph, were both patrons at a bar in Layou.

At one point, Joseph went out of the bar and stood at a wall to cool down, as the interior of the bar was too warm.

Smith, who was standing nearby, asked Joseph why he was looking at him.

Joseph told Smith that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a free country and he was at liberty to look at whatever he wished.
Shortly after, Joseph left to accompany a young lady to her home nearby.

As he approached the bar on his way back, Smith rushed up to him and stabbed him three times to the jaw, chest, and the right lower flank.

After inflicting the injuries, Smith left the bar and other patrons assisted Joseph, who was taken to hospital, where he was warded for three weeks.

Justice Cottle said that in handing down sentence, the court always bears in mind the aims of criminal sentencing, namely, retribution, deterrence, prevention, and rehabilitation. 

The maximum penalty for the offence is life in prison, he pointed out, adding that several cases have been decided in the court that established a starting point of 10 years for grievous bodily harm with intent.

He said there were many aggravating features in the case, including the fact that the attack was unprovoked.

The judge noted that a bladed weapon was used, multiple stab wounds were inflicted and Smith showed no mercy to his victim.

“The attack was carried out in a public place of entertainment,” the judge observed, adding that the injuries were serious and medical expenses incurred for treatment were significant.

He said that Joseph was unable to work for many weeks because of his wounds and was psychologically scarred by the assault, as revealed in the victim impact statement.

Justice Cottle said he discerned no mitigating factors in the case.

He said that the social inquiry report reveals that, at the local police station, Smith has a reputation as a hot-tempered, braggadocious individual, especially when he is inebriated.

“He has been known to issue threats to shoot persons with whom he has had disagreements.”

Residents of the community view Smith as dishonest and fond of conflict, while some described him as aggressive and malicious, the report said.

“They, too, reported that he is accustomed to threaten to injure persons and trying to intimidate them by his threats to shoot them.

“The case worker wondered whether this type of behaviour might be, in part, explained by the fact that the offender had a difficult upbringing, that he did not benefit from a secondary education although he completed his primary school education in St. Lucia, where his father lives,” the judge quoted the report as saying.

Justice Cottle noted that Smith is the father of two children, ages 15 and 10.

He pointed out that the man has several previous convictions, including possession of an offensive weapon, to wit a cutlass, without a lawful excuse.

He was also convicted of wounding with intent, in a case in which the mother of his children was the victim.

For this, he was sentenced to six months in prison.

Less than two years after his release, he was again convicted for causing grievous bodily harm and was again jailed.

“He did not seem to learn from those experiences,” Justice Cottle commented, adding that less than three years later Smith was again convicted of assault causing actual bodily harm and was again imprisoned.

The judge said that in those circumstances he holds out little hope for rehabilitation “although I pray that I am wrong on this point and that this will be his last time as an offender”.

He said that because of those aggravating features of the case and taking into account Smith’s antecedent record, he feels compelled to move upwards from the starting point of 10 years to arrive at a notional sentence of 13 years.

He noted that Smith had earned no discount for an early guilty plea.

Smith had spent eight months on remand, leading to 12 years and eight months remaining to be served from Friday.