The two Union Island youths who wounded a U.S. couple during a cutlass attack aboard their yacht near the southern Grenadine island have been jailed for 10 years.
On Friday, at the High Court in Kingstown, Justice Brian Cottle handed down 10-, five- and five-year sentences on the men, but ordered that they run concurrently.
Enard Douglas, who turns 22 in December, and Jeromie Jordan, aka, “JJ”, 23, both of Union Island, were each sentenced to 10 years for aggravated burglary, five years for grievous bodily harm and five years for unlawful and malicious wounding.
Christina Curtin received a massive gash to her left cheek when she and her boyfriend, Mark Beiser were attacked and chopped about their heads and hands aboard their yacht, “Rainbow”, sometime after 7 p.m. on Oct. 3, 2013.
Douglas was just two months shy of his 16th birthday while Jordan was just turning 17 at the time of the crime.
In October 2019, a nine-member jury composed of six women and three men took 1 hour and 48 minutes to arrive at the unanimous guilty verdicts on the aggravated burglary, causing grievous bodily harm, and wounding charges.
At the sentencing, Justice Cottle said that view was expressed that the crime affected not only the two victims but had serious impact on the economic livelihood of many islanders.
“It contributed to the perception that the region is unsafe for yachting and visiting many beautiful tourist sites that the Grenadines offer. In fact, arrivals of visiting yachts declined markedly in the wake of this assault. And this decline in this tourism sector was particularly severe for a region which derives most of its earnings from tourism.”
He said that the impact on the tourism industry in the Grenadines was another important factor that took the case out of the class of regular aggravated burglary. “The actions of these prisoners adversely affected the economic well-being of their entire community. And that adverse effect has been persistent to this day,’” Justice Cottle said.
He said it was instructive that Beiser said he would never again set sail in these waters.
The judge said that the sailor, no doubt, has shared his experience with many other cruisers.
“They, too, might well adopt his attitude,” he said.
Jordon and Douglas represented themselves at their trial and sentencing hearing.
Asked at the sentencing if they had anything to say, Douglas said no.
Jordan, however, maintained that he was not guilty of the crimes or of chopping either of the visitors.
He pointed out to the court that he was only 16 years old at the time of the crime, adding that it would be hard for him “to go down” for a crime he didn’t commit and of which he had “no knowledge”.
In his sentencing remarks, Justice Cottle said that Curtin still suffers from post-traumatic stress.
“The assault has left her easily startled. The terror of her ordeal is never far from her mind. Physically, she is healing slowly. There has been facial scar with underlying nerve damage, which causes numbness to this day. It is unclear that this will ever entirely resolve itself,” the judge said.
He said that Beiser sustained less serious injury to his head and apart from the scars on his scalp; there was no permanent physical damage.
“But while he escaped serious physical harm, the psychological impact of an assault in the dark of night in the supposed safety of his yacht cannot be overstated. He has abandoned, forever, cruising through the Caribbean.”
The judge said that Beiser had to endure medical expenses as well as expenses to purchase additional safety gear for his boat.
He, too, considers the prisoners should pay in full for their actions on that night, Justice Cottle said.
Citing the social inquiry report, Justice Cottle noted that Douglas has reached 21 years but did not complete his secondary school education.
He has previous convictions for firearm possession and burglary.
Jordan has seven previous convictions, including for ammunition possession, burglary and escaping lawful custody.
In outlining the aggravating features of the crime, Justice Cottle noted that the offences were committed at night, there was group involvement, cutlasses were the weapons of choice and they were actually used on the victims.
The mitigating circumstance was that nothing was actually stolen from the vessel.
In considering the aggravating features of the offenders, the judge noted that they both have previous convictions and a history of dishonesty. Both men have been convicted of unlawful possession of ammunition, while Douglas has been convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm.
A mitigating factor for the prisoners was their ages – Douglas was 15 at the time of the crime and Jordan was 17.
The application of gratuitous violence was an aggravating feature, Justice Cottle said.
“There was no need to use a cutlass to the head of the female complainant, there could even have been fatal consequence,” Justice Cottle said.
The judge noted that despite being the younger offender, Douglas appears to have played the leading role in the crime.
“I can see nothing mitigating about this offence,” he said.
In relation to that crime, the aggravating features were the use of cutlasses and group involvement. The mitigating factor, he said, was that the wound was relatively minor and caused no permanent impairment, apart from scarring.
On sentencing Douglas, Justice Cottle began with a notional sentence of 10 years for the aggravated burglary and he went up four more years to take account of the aggravating features of the offence.
“I consider the age of the offender — just 15 at the time — would normally require that I move down by about six years. But, when I consider his criminal antecedents, I find that this cancels out any reduction I would have otherwise made for his tender years,” Justice Cottle said.
The judge further said he considered that Douglas played a “leading role in this criminal enterprise”.
In sentencing Jordan, Justice Cottle said he was the older of the convicts and also had previous convictions.
He, however, said that because Jordan’s was not the leading role in the crime he would not impose a longer sentence but would impose the same as Douglas’.
Judge said the court had to decide whether an order should be made that the sentences run concurrently or consecutively.
“I find that all of the offences were committed during the same time so that all the sentences will run concurrently,” he said.
The judge also said that of the ten years imposed on Douglas for the aggravated burglary, 29 days he spent on remand ought to be deducted. This means he will spend nine years, eleven months and one day in prison.
In the case of Jordon, the prosecution said he was at the time serving a sentence so he did not spend time on remand. As a result, he will serve his entire sentence.
For the aggravated burglary charge, the men faced a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, a notional sentence of 30 years.
On the charge of unlawful and malicious wounding the maximum penalty is 14 years in prison.