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The defendant, Margaret Smith, holds her youngest child outside High Court No. 1, in Kingstown, on May 22, 2023, one of the days on which her sentencing was scheduled to take place.
The defendant, Margaret Smith, holds her youngest child outside High Court No. 1, in Kingstown, on May 22, 2023, one of the days on which her sentencing was scheduled to take place.
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A 40-year-old grandmother who in May 2018 chopped her god-daughter on the arm resulting in surgery and 275 stitches has been ordered to pay EC$32,500 in compensation within three months to avoid immediate jail time.

Further, Margaret Smith, aka “Ole Gyal”, of Petit Bordel, will have to avoid committing for the next three years any offence punishable by more than six months in prison.

Smith was spared immediate jail term in light of her offer to pay the virtual complainant, Teresha Edwards, of Petit Bordel, EC$32,500 in compensation.

However, she must come up with that sum within three months of Friday’s date.

After Justice Brian Cottle handed down his sentence at High Court No. 1, in Kingstown, Smith’s lawyer, Ronald “Ronnie” Marks rose and began to comment on the three-month period.

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The judge asked him if he wanted his client to be given less time to pay.

Marks said that was not the case, adding that they were undertaking an exercise from which Smith would have to pay the compensation and he was not sure whether it would be completed within the three-month period.

The judge, however, did not budge. 

Justice Cottle had initially arrived at a sentence of 12 years, seven months and three weeks in prison for the most serious of the charges to which the defendant had pleaded guilty.

However, he concluded that the case warranted a departure from the sentencing guidelines and he further reduced the sentence to three years, suspended for three years.

Just before the judge handed down the sentence, Edwards told the court that after consultation with her lawyer, she had decided to accept the compensation that Smith had offered.

Edwards had initially rejected the offer, saying that EC$60,000 was a more reasonable amount. 

The matter was listed for sentencing on a number of occasions but had been adjourned as the parties tried to reach an agreement on compensation.

Smith was charged with wounding with intent, assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH) and three counts of possession of an offensive weapon at Petit Bordel on May 14, 2018.

On March 8, 2023, she pleaded guilty to all the charges except one count of possession of an offensive weapon. The prosecution accepted the pleas. 

 VC chopped with cutlass given back to assailant 

According to the judge’s summary of facts, on May 14, 2018, Edwards, then aged 20, was on her way to a river in Petit Bordel, where she lived, to bathe herself and her 1-year-old son.

Smith approached Edwards, with whom she had had an altercation the previous day, and offered to fight her. She pushed Edwards and struck her repeatedly with her (Smith’s) handbag.

Edwards was still carrying her child and one of the blows struck the child, causing an injury to the head. 

Edwards put the child onto the ground and began to fight back and Smith bit her on her left breast, neck and upper body. Smith also picked up a stone and struck Edwards to the side of her head.

Edwards’ sister arrived at the scene and separated the two women. Edwards and her son went to the river and had their baths.

Edwards and Smith lived across the street from each other and as Edwards was walking home from the river, she saw Smith sitting next to a crate of empty beer bottles.

Smith was carrying a cutlass as she got up and went towards Edwards. She failed in her attempt to chop Edwards and a fight ensued again.
Edwards was able to wrest the cutlass from Smith and gave it to her (Edwards’) sister, Roxanne.  

Smith then drew a knife and stabbed Edward on the left hand.

Roxanne spoke to Smith and implored her to stop the hostilities. Smith agreed and Roxanne gave back the cutlass to Smith, who pretended to walk away.

Smith then turned around suddenly and inflicted a serious chop wound to Edwards’ left arm. 

Teresha Edward 230602
The virtual complainant, Teresha Edward, left, and her mother outside High Court No. 1 after the sentencing on Friday, June 2, 2023.

Debilitating injury  

Edwards received medical attention at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital and doctors there described the chop wound as very deep, leaving the tendon, muscles and vessels exposed and the underlying bone palpable.

Edwards had to undergo surgery and spent eight days in hospital.

She had to undergo physical therapy but only regained limited use of her left hand and can only extend the thumb and index and middle fingers, as the ring finger and little finger are immobile.

The judge said that this makes many household tasks very difficult for Edwards, who is unable to wash clothes by hand or comb her daughter’s hair. She has to depend on others for assistance.

The judge noted that Edwards’ son was also injured.

Assailant a victim of abuse 

The judge said that Smith is now 40 and has six children. She grew up in poverty in a single-parent household and only attended primary school only.

Her children remain dependent on her as the father of her first child never supported that child. The father of the second child is in prison abroad and the father of the third and fourth children was lost at sea.

Edwards’ uncle is the father of Smith’s fifth child. The sixth child is still breastfeeding and that child’s father lives in Grenada and provides only limited support.

Smith is also a grandmother as her eldest daughter, who she still supports, is pregnant with a second child and has a heart condition and depends on Smith for support for herself and her children.

A number of members of Smith’s community provided affidavits attesting to her struggles in her earlier life.

Smith committed the offences at a time when she was living with Edwards’ uncle and had no other source of support.

The judge said that Smith said she suffered great abuse over an extended period by the family of the father of her fifth child.

Smith said she was unable to deal with the constant abuse and when Edwards poked her in the eyes on the day of the incident, she lost control.

The judge said that the medical report showed that Smith had red and black discolouration around both eyes. There was marked swelling to the left eye.

Attack partially motivated by revenge  

Justice Cottle noted the aims of criminal sentencing, namely retribution, deterrence, prevention and rehabilitation. 

He further  pointed out that there are sentencing guidelines for wounding with intent, which the court must follow unless doing so would lead to injustice in a particular case.

The judge noted that wounding with intent carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, a notional sentence of 30 years. 

In examining the consequences of Smith’s action, he pointed out that Edwards suffered a very serious injury that will affect her for the rest of her life. 

He said that Edwards suffered psychological harm as detailed in the victim impact report and lost use of two fingers. 

The judge noted that Edwards’ surgery required 275 stitches.

In examining the seriousness of the offence, he noted that Smith used two bladed weapons and that a third party had succeeded in diffusing the violence when Smith turned around and suddenly caused even more serious injury.

Justice Cottle said there was an element of premeditation as Smith armed herself and waited for Edwards to return. 

The judge established a starting sentence of 18 years in prison — 60% of the maximum sentence. 

He said that the aggravating features of the offence include that Smith was motivated partially by revenge for perceived persistent abuse by Edwards’ family.

The court noted that the offence was committed in the presence of Edwards’ young child who was also injured.

Edwards’ sister was also present.

Among the mitigating features of the offence the judge identified was that Smith said there was some level of provocation by Edwards when she poked her in the eyes and also said she had been a victim of abuse by Edwards and members of her family. 

The judge noted that Smith has previous convictions but they are spent, but one was for wounding Edwards’ sister who had tried to pacify her on the day of the incident. 

This shows that there was some history of animosity between Smith and members of Edwards’ family, Justice Cottle concluded. 

‘likely perpetuation of intergenerational poverty’ 

Mitigating of the offender was that she had expressed remorse and offered to pay compensation to Edwards.

The character evidence showed that Smith was a good candidate for rehabilitation.

The judge concluded that the aggravating features slightly outweigh the mitigating ones and increased the sentence by one year to arrive at a notional sentence of 19 years.

The judge granted the full one-third discount although Smith did not plead guilty at the first opportunity.

He pointed out that discussions were taking place between prosecution and defence and the sentencing was delayed to allow for discussions about compensation. 

This brought the sentence to 12 years and eight months, minus the one week that Smith spent on remand.

For the ABH charge, the judge sentenced Smith to one year, 11 months and three weeks.

He imposed a sentence of four months on each count of possession of an offensive weapon. 

The sentences were to run concurrently.

Margaret Smith 230602
Margaret Smith uses her clothing to hide her face as she exits High Court. N0. 1 in Kingstown after her sentencing on Friday, June 3, 2023.

The judge noted that Edwards had expressed her view on sentencing and said he felt he has to take it into account, noting that Edwards had said she did not wish to see Smith go to prison

He pointed out that the court was not compelled to grant Edwards’ wish, adding, however, that they deserved the court’s consideration. 

 Justice Cottle said that he had taken into account Smith’s peculiar personal circumstances, the impact incarceration would have on her, her dependent children and the likely perpetuation of intergenerational poverty. 

The judge said he had also considered Edwards’ view and the court felt the case was one where it would depart from the strict application of the sentencing guidelines. 

He said that the guideline say that when considering a suspended sentence, the court must take into account whether appropriate punishment could only be achieved by immediate custody, whether the defendant present a risk to public or victim, if there had been history of poor compliance with court order, whether there was a realistic prospect for rehabilitation, whether there was strong personal mitigation, and the impact of an immediate custodial sentence on dependent relatives, employers and the community?

The judge said that in answering those questions, the court felt that appropriate punishment could be achieved without immediate incarceration. 

Defendant no risk to public, complainant 

He said Smith did not present a risk or danger to the public or Edwards, has historically complied with court orders, her prospects of rehabilitation are good and there is power personal mitigation. 

“A custodial sentence will be devastating for her, her children and her grandchildren,” Justice Cottle said.

The judge’s final sentence was that for wounding with intent, Smith be sentenced to three years in prison; for ABH, one year, 11 months and three week; and for possession of offensive weapon, four months in prison each, the sentences would run concurrently and be suspended for three year. 

The judge noted to Smith that if she commits in SVG any offence punishable by imprisonment for more than six months, the sentencing judge could order that she serve the sentences. 

4 replies on “Grandma’s offer of $32,000 in compensation helps stave off prison time for chopping goddaughter ”

  1. Things are so bad and so HARD in this country, and some people is making it even HARDER, why can’t we use our mouths as a weapon , and put down the GUNS ,CUTLASS, KNIFES AND BIG STONES AND EVEN SOMETIMES STICKS, WORDS HURTS BUT THEY DO NOT SEND YOU TO HOSPITAL, REMEMBER PEOPLE WE DO NOT HAVE A HEALTH CARE IN THIS COUNTRY, JUST SAYING TO THE ONES WHO ARE WILLING TO LISTEN

  2. Dian weekes says:

    She commit the crime if can’t pay ,she will have to dothe time,she should think first ingnoronce is a curse.

  3. Think before you act u won’t have been in this situation today ,but when you tell your self u are a big bad bully then u should serve time in prison

  4. She is a wicked bully woman from long time. She attacked me before and I had to ran for my life! Even with a cutless in her hand. Ole gal is evil hearted and wicked bad. She needs to be in jail for the rest of her life. Lock her up away from human being. She is a war and cuss woman! Her reputation for a young woman is awful and terrible.

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