A North Union man who killed a fellow villager by chopping him behind his legs in February 2020 gave a tearful apology in court, accepting responsibility for his action but saying did not intend to kill.
“Ms Rosie, I’m sorry that how the thing happen,” Frankie Joseph, 35, said at High Court No. 2 in Kingstown before he was jailed for a further 18 years, 10 months and 24 days for the murder of Henry “Busta” Parsons, 54.
“The thing did happen, but I did not really go to kill him,” Joseph told Parsons’ niece.
“The way I feel right now, if I could have given him back his life, I would have given him. So right now, I am asking the court to have mercy on me, have leniency on me. Give me another chance in society, please,” Joseph said.
Justice Angelica Teelucksingh gave Joseph an opportunity at his sentencing hearing, on Wednesday, at High Court No. 2, in Kingstown, to apologise to the family of the deceased.
He had said in a social inquiry report that he wanted to do so but had not had the opportunity.
Parsons died on Feb. 21, 2020 after receiving a single chop wound to the back of his legs at “Kiss me Neck” bar in the North Union community of Long Piece.
The facts of the case, as outlined by the judge, are that Parsons was among patrons at a karaoke event at the bar on the night of Feb. 21, 2020.
Joseph entered the bar carrying a long cutlass and Parsons told him to hold the cutlass carefully because he might cut someone.
Joseph started cursing and exited the bar.
Another patron offered to take the cutlass but Joseph refused to give it to him, saying he was going to kill someone that night.
Joseph later pushed Parsons, who protested that he had not done anything to Joseph.
Parsons then went home and returned and began to curse Joseph, saying he had his hammer and acid in his pocket and began to pound the wall with the hammer.
When Joseph arrived at the shop, another patron had asked him where he was going with the cutlass and Joseph said it was his weapon.
Joseph asked a patron to buy him a quart of rum but the patron refused, saying Joseph was already drunk.
Parsons approached Joseph outside the bar twice, resulting in Joseph pushing him away.
Joseph chopped Parson behind his feet as Parsons was talking with two other patrons.
Parsons bled to death while sitting on a stool outside the shop.
The police later arrived on the scene and met Joseph sitting on a bench at another location in the village with a black handle knife in his hand. They arrested him.
In his interview with detectives, Joseph said that Parsons had tried to come at him and he chopped Parson behind his foot.
The judge said that Dr. Ronald Child, who conducted an autopsy on Parson’s body, said that while there were two injuries, the location seemed to have been one chop.
He said the cause of death was exsanguination or excessive bleeding.
Justice Teelucksingh noted the Crown had not sought the death penalty as a viable sentence. The court agreed, saying the case did not amount to the worst of the worst murders, for which the death penalty is reserved.
The court also concluded that based on the facts, a whole life sentence was not an appropriate starting point.
She noted that Joseph took a bladed weapon to the scene with the intent to commit murder and did commit murder.
Justice Teelucksingh established a starting point of 30 years, saying she disagreed with the defence that a more appropriate starting point would be 25 years.
In examining the aggravating and mitigating features of the offence, the court disagreed with the Crown that there was use of gratuitous violence.
She said there was no evidence that after chopping Parsons, Joseph returned and struck him several times with the cutlass.
The court concluded that the aggravating features of the offence was the prevalence of murder and the fact that it was committed in a public place, in full view of members of the public.
Justice Teelucksingh, therefore, moved up the sentence by three years.
The judge said that both the Crown and defence agreed that Parsons had provoked Joseph — noting that Parsons had approached Joseph twice and he pushed him away — and that this is a mitigating factor.
Further, Parsons was pounding the hammer inches from Joseph’s foot and threatening to kill him.
The judge said there was no positive evidence from the Crown’s witnesses that the deceased touched Joseph’s buttocks, as he claimed.
She further noted that one witness testified that Joseph had said that he was going to kill someone and would tell the magistrate that the person tried to “bull” (have anal sex with) him.
The judge said there was no evidence that Parsons was the initial aggressor.
She said the mitigating features of the offence was that there was an intention to cause serious bodily harm rather than to kill.
She pointed out that during Joseph’s interview with police he said he did not expect Parsons to die.
The court also considered the number of injuries inflicted, noting that the pathologist had said that there was one chopping action and that mild to moderate force was used.
The chances of survival were good if Parsons had received immediate medical attention, the pathologist has concluded.
Justice Teelucksingh also considered the area of the body where the chop was inflicted, noting that it was to the leg and not the head or neck.
After considering the mitigating features of the offence, the judge moved the sentence down seven years, to 26 years.
She noted that Joseph had previous convictions for assault occasioning actual bodily harm, dating back to 2006.
The judge noted the age of these convictions, adding that the court found it difficult to see a graduation or escalation of violence meted by Joseph, as the Crown has argued.
She said that in arriving at its sentence, the court did not consider these earlier convictions nor did it consider Joseph to be of good character.
The court found no aggravating feature of the offender but held that mitigating on his behalf was his good prospects for rehabilitation.
She noted that in the social inquiry report the Prisons said that they had no problem with Joseph, who is their chief cook.
The Prisons felt that once given the correct guidance and counselling, Joseph would do well, noting that since his imprisonment, he had learnt masonry and is trustworthy and sometimes handles the keys to the storeroom.
The judge also concluded that Joseph had expressed genuine remorse and accepted responsibility for his actions.
A third mitigating factor was that he cooperated with the police.
In light of these factors, the court further reduced the sentence by four years to arrive at 22 years.
The time spent on remand was deducted to arrive at the final sentence.
Jomo Thomas represented Joseph while Assistant Director of Public Prosecution Karim Nelson appeared for the Crown.
Brethren, only God alone forgives.
Some times we have to really have control over ourselves, it does not make any sense to lost our temper and then say we are sorry, that is too late, and what we done cannot be rectified so we pay the price, like in this case
I am guess no one knows how to tie off the injury to control the flow of blood, sad
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