Freed parents Nigel and Althia Morgan weep outside High Court No. 1 in Kingstown, as they embrace their daughter, Krystal Morgan, who returned to prison on Tuesday to complete a reduced sentence for grievous bodily harm. (iWN photo)

Preacher Nigel and his wife, Althia Morgan were, on Tuesday, set free while their daughter, Krystal Morgan, 25, returned to prison to complete a reduced sentence, almost two years after they were jailed for grievous bodily harm.

Nigel had told iWitness News in the days after the incident and before he was charged that his family was engaged in “spiritual warfare”.

The family, which emphasises their Christianity, were jailed for four years each in April 2018, when Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett found them guilty of unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on Cuthbert Victory of Caruth Village, Mesopotamia on April 9, 2016.

Mr. and Mrs. Morgan had held Victory as their daughter poured on him a hot liquid from a kettle in the road outside their home in Hopewell, Mesopotamia.

Victory suffered first-degree burns to his back, shoulder, face and chest as a result of the assault.

A key element of the trial was whether there was joint enterprise.

The defence tried to persuade the court that the family did not plan the attack.

However, the magistrate noted that the older Morgans had held Victory for the entire time that their daughter poured water on him.

He further noted that after Krystal poured the water on Victory, her mother swung him around as if attempting to slam him against a retaining wall, while her father cobbed him on his bottom.

In her defence, Krystal told the court that she was feeling ill and was about to make a cup of tea when she heard noises that suggested that her parents were under attack.

“I felt as if my soul left my body,” she told the Kingstown Magistrate Court even as she acknowledged that she could not recall how she left the kitchen on the upper floor of their two-storey house, to arrive on the street, where she poured the hot water on the man. She told the court that even up to the point of giving evidence, she did not know who it was that she had hurt.

The virtual complainant, Cuthbert Victory in the days immediately after the incident. (IWN photo)

Burnett had ruled in April 2018 that the Crown had not made out a case for joint enterprise, but said he was confident that he could properly convict the trio under the principle of aiding and abetting.

Immediately after their conviction and sentencing, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, the Morgans’ lawyer, had signalled her clients’ intention to appeal the sentence.

However, the appeal was not heard last November, and even on Tuesday, Bacchus-Baptiste told the court that she was prepared to go ahead with the hearing although she had not had time to digest submissions that the respondents had served on her on Friday.

The lawyer said she would have liked to have responded in writing but said she feared that if she asked for more time before the hearing, the appeal would be postponed to September and that would be to the detriment of her clients.

Krystal Morgan grabs at iWitness News’ recording devices as police officers (not pictured) escort her to jail in April 2018. (iWN photo)

Justices of Appeal Mario Michel, Davidson Kelvin Baptiste and acting Justice of Appeal Paul Anthony Webster, with Baptiste serving as head of the panel, heard the appeal.

Justices of Appeal Mario Michel, Davidson Kelvin Baptiste and acting Justice of Appeal Paul Anthony Webster, with Baptiste serving as head of the panel, heard the appeal.

The panel noted Bacchus-Baptiste’s indication of the possibility of her being handicapped in the circumstances and asked whether proceeding would not be to the detriment of the appellants.

However, the lawyer, who has been practising for over three decades, said she was confident that she could proceed in the circumstances.

Bacchus-Baptiste then went on to outline the grounds of appeal, saying that the magistrate had misapplied and or had failed to consider the law in relation to aiding and abetting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, having decided, on the same facts, that there was no joint enterprise.

She further argued that Burnett had failed to consider or properly consider the defence of self-defence and the duty of the prosecution to negative self-defence.

Another ground of appeal was that the magistrate misrepresented the defendants’ case and did not make proper notes on the defendants’ cross examination of the prosecution witnesses.

She said that the magistrate had omitted to record and to consider “the glaring inconsistencies” of the prosecution’s case.

On this point, Bacchus-Baptiste referred to the police witness statements and the evidence-in-chief of the virtual complainant, and Clint Antoine, a key witness for the prosecution.

“The verdict is, therefore, perverse in all the circumstances of the case,” Bacchus-Baptiste argued.

Justices of Appeal Mario Michel, Davidson Kelvin Baptiste and acting Justice of Appeal Paul Anthony Webster, with Baptiste serving as head of the panel, heard the appeal.

The panel noted Bacchus-Baptiste’s indication of the possibility of she being handicapped in the circumstances and asked whether proceeding would not be to the detriment of the appellants.

However, the lawyer who has been practising for over three decades, said she was confident that she could proceed in the circumstances.

Bacchus-Baptiste then went on to outline the grounds of appeal, saying that the magistrate had misapplied and or fail to consider the law in relation to aiding and abetting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, having decided, on the same facts, that there was no joint enterprise.

She further argued that Burnett had failed to consider or properly consider the defence of self defence and the duty of the prosecution to negative self defence.

Another ground of appeal was that the magistrate misrepresented the defendants’ case and did not make proper notes on the defendants’ cross examination of the prosecution witnesses.

She said that the magistrate had omitted to record and to consider “the glaring inconsistencies” of the prosecution’s case.

On this point, Bacchus-Baptiste referred to the police witness statements and the evidence-in-chief of the virtual complainant, and Clint Antoine, a key witness for the prosecution.

“The verdict is, therefore, perverse in all the circumstances of the case,” Bacchus-Baptiste argued.

Krystal Morgan, right, is escorted back to prison, on Tuesday, to complete her sentence. (iWN photo)

‘shoddy and biased investigation’

She said that the magistrate had displayed partiality by highlighting in bold and capitals some of Antoine’s words.

There had been no mention of these said words in the witness statement to the police soon after the incident, the lawyer added.

Bacchus Baptiste also said that the magistrate failed to consider “the shoddy and biased investigation of the police”, who she said had failed to take photographs to negative the importance of a broken teacup at the scene or interview a key witness to negative the defence of self-defence and the lack of evidence of aiding and abetting.

The chief magistrate, she further argued, failed to engage in “a proper, transparent sentencing hearing”, the lawyer said, adding that the magistrate also failed to distinguish between the defendants in passing sentence but treated them all the same.

The final ground of appeal was that the magistrate had failed to apply the mitigating issue of provocation at the time of sentencing but sought to justify the sentence after the fact.

Bacchus-Baptiste then recounted the facts, according to the defence and said that the complainant was hoping to obtain money from her clients.

She asked the court to set aside the conviction of Mr. and Mrs. Morgan and to reduce the sentence of the daughter to two and a half to three years.

Lawyer Kay Bacchus-Baptiste appeared for the family at their trial and appeal. (iWN file photo)

Bacchus-Baptiste pointed out that the magistrate had mentioned a maximum sentence of 14 years for a person convicted of inflicting grievous bodily harm. He, however, did not indicate that that was so only at the High Court level.

The maximum sentence at the magisterial level is seven years, and Bacchus-Baptiste said the court could not be sure that the 14 years was not operating on the magistrate’s mind when he handed down his sentence.

The lawyer further noted that the magistrate had not indicated any notional sentence.

In making a case for a sentence reduced to a maximum of three years in prison, Bacchus-Baptiste pointed out that Krystal had been a university student overseas but had returned home because of illness and had been planning to return to her studies.

Respondent agrees sentence was ‘excessive’

Crown Counsel Karim Nelson appeared for the respondent. (iWN file photo)

In his submissions, Crown Counsel Karim Nelson, who appeared for the respondent, agreed that the four-year sentence was somewhat excessive.

He, however, said that reducing it to two and a half years was “a big leap downward.

“The lowest I can see is three years,” he said.

Nelson said that the mitigating circumstances of the case were that it was Krystal’s first offence; she was of good character and her relative youth.

He, however, said that aggravating was the fact that it was a group activity, and that Victory received serious burns.

Nelson noted that Victory received first-degree burns to an extensive part of his body.

The Crown Counsel argued that the respondents were of the view that the magistrate could have convicted the older Morgans under the principle of aiding and abetting.

He argued that the magistrate could have concluded that there was intentional assistance.

Nelson said that the magistrate had the benefit of a demonstration, by the virtual complainant, of how Mr. and Mrs Morgan held him while their daughter poured the hot liquid.

He further argued that Mr. and Mrs Morgan did not have to know the exact crime that their daughter was going to commit but that they could have contemplated that she was going to assault Victory with the kettle.

Nelson posited that it was reasonable for the magistrate to conclude, in light of Victory’s demonstration, that Mr. Morgan had seen his daughter approaching with the kettle.

The Crown Counsel said that kettles are used for boiling water.

Krystal Morgan, left, looks on as her parents, Nigel and Althia Morgan embrace outside the court after her parents were freed on Tuesday. (iWN photo)

But Justice of Appeal Michel pointed out that Antoine had told court that the older Morgans were not holding Victory so as to restrain him but so as to beat him.

Justice of Appeal Baptiste said that this finding by the magistrate undermined, if not demolished, Nelson’s argument.

The Crown Counsel, however, said he was not sure that he agreed.

However, Justice of Appeal Michel said that Justice of Appeal Baptiste had been kind in his words, adding that the magistrate’s own findings had demolished Nelson’s argument.

At this point, Nelson argued that if the court should overturn the older Morgans’ conviction that they consider, based on the evidence, that at the minimum, they had assaulted the virtual complainant.

It is highly likely that Krystal will be released soon as she has already served about 22 months in prison. Prison authorities generally give prisoners a one-third remission on their sentence for good behaviour, which would mean that Krystal would only have to serve 24 months of her three-year sentence, which means that she could be released in April 2020.

8 replies on “Parents freed, daughter gets reduced sentence in ‘spiritual warfare’ hot water case”

  1. But shit in our kangaroo court. The issue of justice must be rendered by mercy is also bull plus shit. The is a travesty to Mr Victory. Will this cause citizens to take matters into their own hand’s? Where is Vince lawyer I will like to hear from you with respect to this.

    1. Vincy Lawyer says:

      I made my comments on this matter since 1 May 2018.

      I was spot on. My article is on this website. Link provided in a comment on the recent article with the video following their release.

  2. These people should have been prosecuted for attempted murder.

    Arthur William Hodge was a plantation farmer and notoriously cruel slave owner in the British Virgin Islands, who was hanged in 1811 for the murder of one of his slaves. He murdered the slave by pouring boiling water on and down his throat.

  3. These people got off light because of who they are. What they did was un-Christian and in-human. If an ordinary person/s did this they would have got the maximum sentence.

  4. Rickie Burnett made an appropriate decision because there is little chance that these people would have had to stay in for the duration. They would have been released early. If the sentence was shorter they would have only been in for a few months, which is too little for thier crime. It is appropriate that they did have to pay something for thier crime but they should not have been “administratively”, “set free”. Does this now set a precedence that people can gang-up together to administer agonizing pain and maime someone and get away with it just by saying God requires it? What if they would have killed this bad-mouthed youngster?

  5. King Saul became jealous of David who became his son in law after he killed Goliath and became famous. He persecuted David to the ends of his kingdom to kill him. One day he and his army were resting and he wanted to shit. He spotted a nearby cave and went in alone to shit. In that same cave David and his men were hiding. From their hiding place they looked down at the king as he dropped his weapon and stooped down to shit. David’s men said to David “This is your chance to kill him”. David answered “No, leave him to God”. And surely it came to pass that David became The King. Two women came before king Solomon in a dispute about a child. One of the women’s baby had died and they both claimed a living baby as their own. The King suggested cut baby in two, half for each woman. The real mother agreed to give the child to the other woman who had agreed with the king’s suggestion. The stories are written so simple, a child could rationalize the moral. DSgsd c

  6. excellent job Kay ……specifically on the magistrate misrepresentation and self defense that he failed to consider even after the provocation of the complainant . the facts are simply the facts with no partiality

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