A 23-year-old Lowmans Windward (Wd) man was, on Monday, jailed for three years for chopping a 69-year-old villager about his body in the victim’s house during an attack targeting the victim’s son.
Tuckron Jacobs inflicted the injuries on George Bristol amidst an on-going feud among residents of Lowmans Windward (Wd) and Greiggs, two South Central Windward communities, which came to a head when Bristol’s son, who lives in Greiggs, went to visit him.
In handing down the sentence on Jacobs, a farmer, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne noted that he had exhibited absolutely no remorse.
“Actions have consequences. Young people must not be so hot headed. You have to think before you act. If all of the young men in Lowmans and Greiggs would think actions have consequences we will not be here today,” she said.
“You are fortunate because you have no previous convictions and that is why the sentence, seemingly, is on the lower end. Others might not be so fortunate,” Browne told the defendant.
In his submission on sentencing, the prosecutor, Station Sergeant of Police Renrick Cato pointed out that each time the court attempted to show Jacobs why his actions were wrong, he responded, justifying them.
“When you can take a cutlass and look a 69 year old man, as a 23-year-old and chopped him in his head, of all places, in his head, you must be sent to a place where you need time to reflect on your action at your age and what you want out of life,” Cato said.
“And that place, your honour, I submit is Her Majesty’s Prisons. This defendant has to learn. And if learning means learning the hard way, that is how it is. And if the court is minded to send him to prison, if after the prison sentence he still has the mentality of taking revenge for his partner, then that choice belongs to him,” the prosecutor said.
On Friday, at the serious offences court, Jacobs pleaded guilty to a charge that on June 17, at Lowmans Windward, he unlawfully and maliciously inflicted grievous bodily harm on Bristol.
He also pleaded guilty to a charge that on that same day, he damaged one 3’x3’ aluminium and glass window, valued at EC$400; one 4’x3’ aluminium window with glass louvers, valued at EC$500; one 36”x80” wooden and glass panel door, valued at EC$550; one big wooden table, valued at EC$250; one small wooden table, valued at EC$12; one small purple dish, valued at EC$10; one sheet of 12-foot unpainted galvanize, valued at EC$110 — total value, EC$2,020, Bristol’s property and was reckless as to whether such property would be damaged.
On the damage to property charge, Jacobs was jointly charged along with fellow villager, Keron Boyea, who pleaded not guilty and is to be tried before the Biabou Magistrate’s Court.
Late night cutlass attack
The facts of the matter, as presented by Cato, are that the virtual complainant’s (VC) son, Tyrone Malone aka Tony, lives in Greiggs. Maloney and Jacobs had an altercation previously.
On June 17, about 10 p.m., Maloney went to visit his parents in Lowmans Wd. Bristol was at home about to cook when his son stepped into the yard.
While Maloney was in the yard, stones began to be fired in the yard from the road and one of them struck him in his head and he fell to the ground.
Maloney managed to get up and went into his father’s house as stones continued to be fired, damaging the windows and roof of the house.
Jacobs went into the yard with a cutlass as Bristol was sitting in the living room, not too far from the front door.
On recognising Jacobs coming towards the house with a cutlass, Bristol locked the door. Jacobs stood outside in the yard saying, “If alyo nah send out Toney, I killing everybody.”
Jacobs took the cutlass and chopped the door and managed to push it open. He went into the house looking for Maloney, who locked himself in a bedroom.
The defendant further took the cutlass and chopped Bristol to his head and on his hand. He then used the weapon to chop other items in the house.
Cato submitted to the court the report of medical injury form and photos of the scene as well as Bristol’s injuries.
He told the court that the VC spent three days in hospital and that police in Biabou had said that there is an inter-village dispute between Greiggs and Lowmans Wd.
He noted that while the VC is from Lowmans Wd, his son is from Greiggs.
Victim ‘upholding’ his son, defendant says
Asked what he had to say for himself, Jacobs told the court that while he was in Bristol’s yard, the VC told him that his son had jumped out of one of the windows and gone down to the river and he should go there to look for him.
Much of Jacobs’ comments to the court were inaudible in the public gallery of the court.
He spoke of being struck on the mouth with a stone.
After listening to the man’s mitigation, the chief magistrate noted that the medical report said that Bristol had a laceration down to the bone of his left hand that took five internal and eight external sutures.
“This is quite serious,” she said.
However, Jacobs told the court that the VC was “upholding” because he had watched as his son chopped the defendant’s cousin.
Jacobs said this is how the feud started but the chief magistrate countered that he cannot think that his actions were “justified”.
However, the defendant said that someone told him that the previous day he was going to Greiggs and someone ran him down with a cutlass.
“That is because Greiggs and Lowmans, for whatever reason, have stupidness going on,” the chief magistrate said, adding that Jacobs could not, on a new day, inflict injuries on someone and use past events to justify them.
“And look at the hour; 10 p.m.!” she said.
Jacobs told the court that he saw the cutlass when he jumped in the yard on his way to the shop to buy chicken.
He said he had gone into Bristol’s yard “because I was defending my soldier because they damaged his hand”.
“Some months before?” the chief magistrate said. “So it’s premeditated. You are waiting for the moment to take action for your soldier.”
“We grow up like brothers,” Jacobs responded.
Jacobs said he works hard and is not a violent person.
“You know how to chop hard,” the chief magistrate said, and Jacobs appeared to smile.
“You are saying you are not a violent man but in your head you are showing that you have to protect your turf, you have to protect your people, you have to take a stand to protect whomever you think injustice was done to,” she said.
She pointed out that someone from Greiggs could be entertaining the same thoughts about residents of Lowmans Wd. “… and someone is not going to be so skilled in the use of a cutlass and it is going to get crazy. That could be his time when he could clock out. And you all are living like that. This was totally not necessary.”
Violence damaging SVG’s reputation
In his submissions on sentencing, Cato said that while the incident was not gun-related, it was a violent one.
“Just on the weekend, there were three persons shot,” the prosecutor said.
“St. Vincent is still home of the blessed but persons with this kind behaviour like the defendant’s are damaging our reputation; it is damaging St. Vincent and the Grenadines on a whole because it is causing an increase in violence in SVG. The defendant is from Lowmans and on that night he is telling the court he left home to go to buy chicken after 10 at night. I don’t know if this is a new way of shopping in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Cato said.
He said it “so happened” that on the same night, the VC’s son was visiting from the neighbouring village.
“The VC and this defendant had nothing. The defendant went to the VC’s home and started firing stones. As if that was not enough, he is telling the court that the VC told him, ‘My son is not here. He jumped out the window gone down by the river, go and look for him.'”
The prosecutor questioned what would cause this defendant to leave his home with a cutlass after 10 p.m.
Jacobs, interjected, saying he was on the block.
But the prosecutor said it was clear, based on the information from the police, and the defendant’s comment in court “there is something going on between the villages, Greiggs and Lowmans.
“And it is here the court has to step in and let these persons, whether from Greiggs or from Lowmans know that the court will not tolerate this kind of behaviour. The court ought to set an example for other persons, whether from his group or from the Greiggs group to follow. “
Cato noted that the sentence for grievous bodily harm at the high court is 14 years, and seven years at the magisterial level.
“The court has seen the medical form, they are serious injuries,” Cato said, and the magistrate commented that it had been a long time since the court had been confronted with such injuries.
The prosecutor said that in sentencing, the defendant would benefit from his early guilty plea, his age, and his clean record.
“… but there is no sign of remorse, absolutely no sign of remorse,” Cato said.
“I am here listening to the court trying to change his mind set, his way of thinking and every time the court mentions something positive, the defendant, his mind is on one thing,” the prosecutor said.
“Vigilante behaviour is unacceptable in the community,” Cato said, nothing that Maloney and Jacobs were not involved in an altercation, but the allegation was that Maloney and one of Jacobs’ cousins were.
“But the soldier is not good enough to go at Tony with his own issue, so he, the defendant, will deal with it,” Cato said.
He said that based on the facts and circumstances of the case, he could see the court imposing nothing but a custodial sentence.
Credit for age and guilty plea
In handing down her sentence, the chief magistrate gave the defendant a detailed explanation of the sentencing guidelines.
She established a starting point of 60% of the maximum sentence, or 4 years and two months in prison.
Browne said that the crime was motivated by revenge and that the victim was elderly man.
She saw no mitigating features, and added four months to the starting sentence.
Browne gave the offender credit for his age and the fact that he had no previous conviction, but also noted his lack of remorse and seeming intent on justifying his actions.
She said those factors balanced each other out and he made no further adjustment to the sentence.
The chief magistrate gave the defendant the full one-third discount for his early guilty plea, resulting in a sentence of three years and one month, which she rounded down to three years.
For the damage to property charge, she sentenced Jacobs to nine months in prison, to run concurrent to the other sentence and informed him of his right to appeal.