A 20-year-old man has been sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison for a cutlass attack that left a fellow villager with a deep slash to his neck that exposed his trachea.
Justice Brian Cottle handed down the sentence on Lyndon Bynoe, of Old Montrose, at High Court No. 1, in Kingstown on Monday for the June 20, 2021 attack on Roger Brazil, a 53-year-old tailor.
The facts of the case, as outlined by the judge, are that on June 20, 2021 – Father’s Day — Bynoe approached a friend and asked to borrow a cutlass, saying he wanted to cut up some chicken to cook.
This was not true.
Rather, Bynoe concealed the cutlass on his person and went to the home of Brazil, a neighbourhood tailor, who plied his trade from a room in his house.
Brazil knew Bynoe from childhood and is also familiar with his family.
The defendant told Brazil that he wished to have a pair of pants adjusted to go to a wedding that very day.
Brazil told Bynoe he was too busy to assist but he eventually agreed to help.
As Brazil sat on his sewing machine with a view outside a window, Bynoe took out the cutlass and sawed at Brazil’s neck.
Brazil reached for his neck and called out to his mother, who entered the room and saw Brazil bleeding profusely.
Bynoe jumped out of a window and a neighbour who had been alerted to the fracas, grabbed on to him, but Bynoe escaped, leaving a torn piece of his shirt in the neighbour’s hands.
Brazil was taken to hospital where doctors attended to a deep wound to his neck, which exposed his trachea. He also suffered deep wounds to his hands.
Bynoe was arrested later the same day and admitted to the offence, but said he had injured Brazil because the victim had indecently assaulted him.
In handing down the sentence, the judge noted Bynoe’s age and that he left school in form 4 because he experienced an adverse reaction to chemicals he was using to bleach his skin in an attempt to achieve a lighter complexion.
Justice Cottle said that Bynoe said he used marijuana and alcohol, as the cannabis helps him to relax and control his asthma.
The defendant also sold fruits and has one previous conviction for burglary.
The judge noted the aims of criminal punishment, namely retribution, deterrence, prevention and rehabilitation.
He further indicated that the maximum penalty for wounding with intent is life imprisonment.
The judge noted that the sentencing guidelines must be followed unless doing so would not be in the interest of justice, adding that he was following the guidelines in the extant case.
The judge said that the court had seen the victim impact report in which Brazil said that in addition to his serious physical injury, he has been psychologically affected by the ordeal.
In the report, Brazil said he no longer allows clients to stand behind him and that he has developed issues of trust with clients and other acquaintances.
Brazil now has claustrophobia, which limits his ability to travel as he is uneasy by the thought of the enclosed cabin of an aircraft.
Brazil further said that the scar to his neck is a constant reminder that he was almost killed in his home by a familiar customer.
The judge identified the aggravating features of the offence as the fact that Bynoe concealed a weapon and carried it to the scene.
He said Bynoe’s hostility to Brazil was on account of Brazil’s perceived sexual orientation.
The judge said this came out clearly in the social inquiry report as Bynoe said he was not a homosexual and he feared Brazil would ask him for sex.
Bynoe further said he is young and did not want any man to have sex with him because he likes having sex with females.
The defendant said he used the cutlass in self defence against what he perceived as a sexual advance by Brazil.
The court established a starting point of 18 years, 60% of the maximum sentence – life imprisonment.
The defendant’s use of the cutlass was on account of what he perceived as a sexual advance, the judge said.
He said the attack was unprovoked, noting that Brazil was attacked from behind while working to adjust trousers that Bynoe had brought to him.
The judge saw no mitigating features of the offence.
He said the fact that Bynoe has a previous conviction for burglary was aggravating, adding that like the extant case, Bynoe had entered the dwelling house of another person and committed an offence therein.
Justice Cottle noted that Bynoe was still young and was 18 years old when he committed the offence.
Interviews with members of his community and former teachers said he is a good candidate for rehabilitation.
The social inquiry report further said that in prison he has behaved himself very well.
The judge said that the mitigating features of the offence outweigh the aggravating, adding that the court took special notice of Bynoe’s tender age.
He moved the sentence down by five years to arrive at 13 years.
The court awarded Bynoe the maximum one-third discount for his early guilty plea, which brought the sentence down to 8 years and eight months imprisonment.
Bynoe had spent three months, one week and five days on remand, leaving him to serve a sentence of eight years, four months and 25 days.
Kaylia Toney appeared for the Crown while Carl Williams represented Bynoe.
In mitigation, Williams had argued that there was no evidence in this case that the offence was premeditated.
However, the judge asked the lawyer if there was a suggestion that Bynoe had armed himself with a cutlass and taken it to the scene because when he first saw Brazil there was no cutlass in evidence.
Williams maintained that there is no intention to use the cutlass.
However, the judge noted that he had borrowed the cutlass saying he was going to cut chicken but there was no chicken.
The lawyer said if the court was of a different opinion would he move on to address the mitigating factors, among which he identified Bynoe’s age and the steps he had taken in prison to address his offending behaviour.