The man who in November 2019 shot three people in Heritage Square, resulting in an auxiliary police officer being paralysed from the chest down, will serve an additional 12 years and four month in prison for his crimes.
The man, Tyson Spencer, 33, of Green Hill, was ordered to spend 15 years in jail, the longest of the three concurrent sentences imposed on him.
The sentence includes the two years, seven months and three days he had already spent on remand.
Justice Angelica Teelucksingh handed down the sentences at High Court No. 2, in Kingstown, on Wednesday.
Spencer pleaded guilty on March 25, 2022 to charges that on Nov. 22, 2019, at Heritage Square, Kingstown, he unlawfully and maliciously wound Curtland Jack with intend so to do; unlawfully and maliciously wound Dwayne Peters with intend so to do; and unlawfully and maliciously wound Deron Quashie with intent so to do.
According to the facts, as agreed by the prosecution and defence, on Nov. 22, 2019, about 11:50 p.m., Jack, an auxiliary police officer, Dwayne Peters, unemployed, and Deron Quashie, a diver, were at Heritage Square, in separate company.
Jack was on his way to Lano Bar to buy a drink when a lady asked him to tell Spencer, who was in front of her, to move away from the area because he was smoking and it was affecting her.
Jack approached Spencer and showed him his police identification card and attempted to speak to him about being considerate to other people around.
Spencer appeared to ignore Jack, who attempted to speak to him again. Spencer then knocked the identification card from Jack’s hand.
Jack retrieved the identification card and went back to Spencer and touched him on his shoulder to speak to him about his actions towards him.
Almost immediately, Jack felt his body go numb and lost consciousness.
He next became aware of his surroundings at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, where he realised that he had been shot.
Jack sustained a gunshot wound to the neck and another to the stomach area, resulting in him being confined to bed and unable to move.
The medical staff at the hospital was unable to remove the bullet in his neck for fear that it may cause more injury to him.
Sometime during Jack’s hospitalisation, Spencer came to see him and apologised.
Jack accepted the apology and advised Spencer to give his life to Jesus.
After two months in hospital, Jack was released but is still confirmed to bed and being cared for by his sister.
Meanwhile, the same night at Heritage Square, Peters was in the crowd drinking and smoking a cigarette when he heard gunshots ring out.
He did not see who was shooting or being shot at.
Shortly after, however, he realised that he was wounded and alerted his cousin to this.
Peters felt a sting about his left knee cap area and fell to the ground.
He was taken to the hospital for medical attention and was released the following morning.
Peters did not see at Heritage Square, Spencer, who he knew very well. He also did not know who had shot him.
In the case of Quashie, he was at Heritage Square with his cousin, taking and cutting marijuana.
At some point, a young man came up to them and asked for a spliff of marijuana.
Quashie showed the man his hand and told him that was all the marijuana that he had.
The young man showed him his police identification card and walked away.
About 15 minutes later, Quashie saw the young man again “rushing” another man who was next to Lano Bar.
He turned to his cousin and said, “Wa dey. Look he ah wild up a next man again.”
Quashie then heard a loud explosion like that of a gunshot.
He began to run toward Lano Bar and heard two more shots.
When Quahsie got to the bar, a young lady told Quashie that he (Quashie) was shot and Quahie immediately lost consciousness.
He regained consciousness at the hospital, where he realised he had been shot to the left side of his abdomen.
He underwent surgery to remove the bullet and repair the damage.
Police conducted an investigation and issued a wanted bulletin for Spence, who surrendered himself on Nov. 27, 2019.
Police conducted a search at Spencer’s home, but only found a round of dented ammunition that was not live.
Spencer indicated that he wanted to speak with Jack to apologise to him and this request was granted.
No firearm or live ammunition was ever recovered.
In handing down the sentences, Justice Teelucksingh noted that wounding with intent carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
She said she saw no reason to depart from the sentencing guidelines, noting that in the case of Jack, he sustained severe physical injury and suffered severe psychological harm.
The judge noted that a gun was used in the commission of the offence against someone working in the public sector.
The judge noted that Jack had shown his identification card to Spencer and it was Jack’s duty to maintain and uphold the law and to protect the public.
Justice Teelucksingh began with a starting sentence of 75% of the maximum (30 years) — 22 years and six months.
She identified as aggravating features, the prevalence of the offence, and the fact that it was committed in the presence of others, which caused other bystanders to be injured.
The judge, therefore, increased the sentence by three years, taking it to 25 years and six months.
She identified as a mitigating factor the lack of premeditation and adjusted the sentence downward to 24 years and six months.
The court found no aggravating feature of the offender and considered as mitigating the plea in mitigation of defence counsel, Carl Williams, and the contents of the social inquiry report:
Justice Teelucksingh said that Spencer had expressed remorse in that he apologised to Jack shortly after the incident while he was in hospital.
She noted that in the social inquiry report, prison authorities said Spencer adheres to rules and regulation of the prison, gives no trouble and had had no incidents while incarcerated. He also helps out in the prison kitchen.
The court also considered Spencer’s relative youth and lack of maturity and moved the sentence downward by two years to 22 years and six months. The court also granted him the full one-third discount for his guilty plea — 7 years six months, resulting in a final sentence of 15 years, minus the time spent on remand.
The court said that the totality principle was applicable as all three counts arose out of one incident, and ordered that the sentences run concurrently.
Justice Teelucksingh also said that because Spencer had shown great potential for rehabilitation and is relatively young, the court was of the view that he will benefit from any educational programme and training offered at prison.
Spencer was sentenced to nine years in prison on each count for shooting Peters and Quashie, the court having applied the one-third discount for the guilty pleas.
He was initially charged with attempted murder in connection with the shooting of Jack but the prosecution withdrew that charge after Spencer pleaded guilty to the other counts on the indictment.
Williams represented Quashie pro bono while Crown Counsel Rose-Ann Richardson appeared for the Crown.