A 20-year-old man, having failed to get into a car in which his ex-girlfriend found refuge from him, punched her in the face later that same day, moments after police had warned him to leave her alone.
And, for his actions, Giovannie Grant, 20, of Ottley Hall, will spend three years and nine months in prison.
Grant might have avoided the relatively lengthy prison sentence had he pleaded guilty to the assault charge and, thereby, obtain up to one-third discount on his sentence.
After all, while he pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on May 22 and again before his trial began the following day, he did not cross examine the virtual complainant or any of the witnesses, nor did he take the stand or call any witnesses in his defence.
And, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne, having found Grant guilty of assault, activated an EC$1,000 bond that the court had imposed on March 6. He was ordered to pay the amount forthwith or spend an additional three months in prison.
Additionally, Grant has to spend a further six months in prison if a fine that was due by May 31 was not paid.
Grant was charged with assault in connection with the May 15 incident, which began at Little Tokyo, and ended with him punching his ex-girlfriend, Reaa Pierre, of Evesham, in the face under Courts gallery on Upper Bay Street, shortly after police had warned him against interfering with the woman.
At the trial, before Browne at the Serious Offences Court, in Kingstown, Pierre said that on. May 15, about 10 a.m., she was at Little Tokyo in the company of her boyfriend, Addamskie Waldron, of Victoria Village.
She said that Waldron, who was driving a rented vehicle, was involved in an accident, so she was sitting in the vehicle, while he was outside.
Pierre said she saw Grant, who had been her boyfriend for nine months looking at her.
The virtual complainant testified that she became scared, wound up the window and locked herself inside the vehicle.
She said Grant disappeared but returned shortly after with a friend.
Grant and his friend tried to open the car door but were unsuccessful. Pierre said Grant was arguing and called her “whore’ and “slut”, among other insults.
She told the court she went to the Central Police Station and made a report and the police warned Grant not to interfere with her.
Pierre testified that a short while later, she was under Courts gallery, where her boyfriend vends, when the defendant came and told her that she must give him “the stuff I have for him”.
Pierre said she told Grant that she did not have anything for him and he became angry and hit her on the left side of her face with his hand.
Pierre told the court the blow caught her near the eye and she fell forward and hit a wall.
She said she then made another report at the Central Police Station.
Waldron corroborated Pierre’s story and told the court that after Grant and his friend were trying to open the car door at Little Tokyo, he asked the defendant what was going on.
The defendant responded, “I want to see my slut!”
He said that after the incident in Tokyo, he encouraged Pierre to report the matter to the police.
Waldron said that after Pierre made the report, she met him under Courts gallery.
He said Grant was on the opposite side of the street and he (Grant) crossed over to where they were, and asked Pierre for the stuff she had for him.
Waldron said Grant became aggressive and he had to place himself between the two of them.
He said he pushed Grant, but the defendant managed to stretch over his shoulder and box Pierre.
“Maxwell told me not to get myself in trouble,” Waldron said, referring to someone who urged him not to retaliate.
Waldron said after Grant boxed Pierre, Grant crossed back to the opposite side of the street and he (Waldron) encouraged Pierre to return to the police station to make another report.
PC 979 Gabriel Jack testified that Pierre visited the station to report on the matter and he observed a “bump” on her forehead.
He said he entertained her report and issued her with medical forms.
Grant, who was unrepresented, did not cross examine Pierre or any of the witnesses. Additionally, he chose not to give evidence on his behalf and did not call any witnesses to testify on his behalf.
The magistrate found Grant guilty, telling him that the prosecution had proven its case overwhelming.
She said she could only “deduce as true” the prosecution’s account as Grant had failed to ask any questions of Pierre and the witnesses.
The magistrate also chided Grant several times about his behaviour and attitude in the courtroom.
VC, witnesses threatened
Following a short recess after the defendant was found guilty, Prosecutor Renrick Cato informed the court that Grant had told Pierre and witnesses that he has to come out of prison.
He said the defendant was not remorseful and the incident happened in a public place and in the presence of a van full of passengers who were waiting after the accident.
The prosecutor said that Grant was warned at the Central Police Station and less than a minute later, boxed Pierre in her face.
Cato told the court that Grant called Pierre, “slut” and “whore”.
He said domestic abuse of women is on the rise in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
He also noted that Grant had attacked Pierre’s eye.
The prosecutor asked the court to impose a custodial sentence sufficient for the defendant to reflect on his actions and accept that Pierre has moved on.
Cato also complimented Waldron on his handling of the situation, saying it takes a real man to see his woman being abused and reacted the way he did.
The magistrate also commended Waldron saying, “The court joins you with that. Excellent of a young man.”
When the magistrate asked Grant for reasons not to send him to prison, he said: “I have my life to live. I don’t want to waste my life in jail. I have a future in front of me and I want to look for a job and achieve my goals — have children.”
Defendant ready ‘to do my time’
In handing down her sentence, the chief magistrate said that Waldron has exercised great restraint, noting that the incident occurs where he sells fruits.
She said that as a result, Waldron had access to “tools” but made the wise decision to heed Maxwell’s advice not to get himself in trouble.
As the chief magistrate was making the preliminary comment, Grant said, “I done make up my mind to do my time.”
Browne established a starting sentence of two years and three months, or 45% of the maximum sentence of five years imprisonment.
She identified as aggravating features of the offence the time and place where the crime was committed and the fact that police had warned Grant moments earlier.
Browne said Grant’s action showed a blatant disregard for law and the law officers.
She spoke of the sensitive and delicate area of Pierre’s body where the defendant targeted, adding that Grant had attacked Pierre with the intention of disfiguring.
She said his action could be categorised as domestic violence.
The magistrate said that the victim is vulnerable and is a female and noted that Grant had repeatedly attacked Pierre, who had expressed real fear.
Browne also noted that the incident occurred in the presence of Pierre’s current partner.
She further said Grant threatened Pierre and the other witnesses and used insulting language toward the defendant.
The court found no mitigating features of the offence.
She added a further one year to the sentence, having concluded that the aggravating features outweighed the mitigating.
Aggravating to the defendant were his previous convictions, including a recent one of a similar nature, the fact that the offence was committed while he was on bail in relation to the same complainant.
The magistrate also noted that Grant had threatened Pierre and other witnesses, telling them, “I have to come out of jail.”
She said the words suggested that Grant would attack them when he is released from jail.
Browne said Grant had shown “wanton disregard” for people in authority when he blurted out in court that he had made up his mind to go to prison.
The magistrate found the defendant’s age to be the only factor working in his favour.
She added six months to the sentence to arrive at a total of three years and nine months.