About 15 years before stabbing his father to death, one of Clinton Cambridge’s most egregious offences was slapping a teacher at Bethel High School, resulting in his expulsion and the end of his secondary school education at Form 1.
Some years later, he tried to shoot his father, but fellow residents of Sion Hill prevented him from doing so.
According to a social inquiry report cited on Friday at his sentencing for killing his father, Cambridge, 26, was known to the Mental Health Rehabilitation Centre from December 2015, when he was diagnosed as bipolar with psychotic features.
His psychiatric symptoms included delusion that he could read other people’s minds as his thoughts were being broadcast for other people to hear, Justice Rickie Burnett said, citing the report.
In January 2019, Dr. Dennis Navidad, a psychiatrist who was attached to the Mental Health Rehabilitation Centre, reviewed Cambridge and amended his diagnosis to bipolar I.
He was reviewed in February and March of 2019 and was found to be mentally stable. However, Cambridge did not keep up with his treatment after being released from prison in April 2019.
The mentally ill man came to the attention of the nation on July 14, 2019 when he stabbed and killed his father, Clint Boucher, 52, of Sion Hill.
Cambridge lived at New Montrose but visited his father regularly at the Sion Hill house where he lived on the ground floor of mother’s house.
Cambridge’s 9-year-old nephew was vacationing with Boucher at the time.
About 10 p.m., Cambridge and his father were lying on a bed in a bedroom with the child between them when the child was awoken suddenly by Cambridge jumping up and down on the bed.
Boucher told his son to behave and stop jumping on the bed and Cambridge left the bedroom and returned with a small brown handle knife.
As he got close to the bed, Cambridge began stabbing at his father, and one of the stabs caught him to the upper left side of his chest.
Cambridge’s nephew, frightened by what he had seen, ran under the bed, from where he saw his uncle drag his grandfather’s body out of the bedroom towards the outside of the house.
Boucher’s mother, who was on vacation in St. Vincent at the time, was staying at the family home nearby.
She was awoken by a commotion outside and opened a window facing Boucher’s downstairs and saw Cambridge, dressed only in his boxers pulling his father through the kitchen door to the outside of his father’s house.
Cambridge’s grandmother called out and asked what was happening and Cambridge responded, “Somebody come help the man; he bleeding out to death.
Boucher’s mother called her great grandson and Cambridge went back into his father’s house and called the child.
The child ran out of the house and to his great grandmother and told her what had happened. She called the police.
Officers who responded met Cambridge at the Sion Hill Intersection barefooted and wearing a pair of boxer briefs.
He immediately blurted out, “Ah man break in the house and kill me daddy.”
Boucher was found wearing a pair of bloody boxers seated crouching forward at his front door at the bottom of a set of steps.
There was a lot of blood on his body as well as in the area where it was found.
Police found a silver-blade, black-handle knife with blood stains in some wet grass at the front of the yard.
Dr. Ronald Child, a pathologist conducted an autopsy on Cambridge’s body and concluded that the cause of death was a stab wound to the chest, which tracked 20cm (approximately 8 inches) deep.
In handing down his sentence, Justice Burnett noted that the law says that a person who is found to be suffering from diminished responsibility should not be convicted of murder where the condition substantially impairs his mental ability.
He noted that the social inquiry report showed that before the altercation, Cambridge worked with his father doing carpentry and masonry and he also worked as a mechanic.
Cambridge told the social worker that he remembers going to the kitchen and taking a knife and stabbing his father.
He spoke of another person living in him that communicates with him. He admitted to killing his father but later in the interview, his thoughts were all over and he became incoherent and hallucinated.
Grandmother, villagers warned deceased about son’s violence
Meanwhile, Boucher’s grandmother told the social worker that she had told her son not to have Cambridge around the premises as he had been seen running up and down in the yard in his boxers and she believed that he was mentally ill.
She further said that according to information provided to her, Cambridge had tried to shoot his father but members of the community prevented Cambridge from doing so. They also told Boucher not to allow Cambridge to live with him.
The mother said her son’s death has impacted her severely as she has to care for her sick mother and cope with her son’s death.
Meanwhile, Yasmine Cambridge, the defendant’s sister, told the social worker that she did not know that her brother suffered from a mental illness.
She said the incident has affected her son’s grade in school and it took him a long time to get them back up to normal.
Defendant warned his father
The social inquiry report further showed that in a Dec. 19, 2021 psychiatric report, Dr. Karen Providence, said Cambridge gave a coherent account of the incident and lamented the circumstances he found himself in.
He said he did not understand how the disagreement between him and his father had escalated to the point where his father was injured and subsequently died.
Cambridge said he had warned his father that something would happen as he had thought his father treated him differently from his other children, particularly his sister who lived at the father’s house with her son.
Cambridge was represented by Counsel Shirlan “Zita” Barnwell, who argued that his degree of responsibility was minimal and asked the court not to detain him at the court’s pleasure — indefinitely
The lawyer argued that doing so would be a hospital order and that his should be reserved for cases where the person detailed is severely ill and a danger to the public.
She said the court should impose a lenient and just sentence to foster rehabilitation rather than punishment.
The prosecution, however, said that the court should apply manslaughter by reason of an unlawful act to a certain extent and apply the sentencing guidelines.
Justice Burnett noted that manslaughter carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, a notional sentence of 30 years in prison.
He further pointed out the aims of criminal punishment, namely retribution, deterrence, prevention and rehabilitation.
The judge said that while there is no question that manslaughter is a serious offence, there are no guidelines to assist the court in sentencing people guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.
Court must protect public from people like Cambridge
Justice Burnett said Cambridge’s ability to make rational decisions was diminished or impaired and in handing down a sentence, court is being asked to appreciate a specialised area of the human mind.
He said the court must appreciate the need to protect the public from people such as Cambridge by removing them from the society if they pose a threat to the society at large.
The judge noted that the facility to treat people with mental health challenges may be limited and patient care may be challenging as St. Vincent and the Grenadines remains a small country with competing resource allocation.
He noted that Providence described bipolar 1 as a serious medical condition and that Cambridge’s condition had improved because of treatment.
The judge said it was instructive that in the Dec. 19, 2022 report Cambridge not only gave a coherent report of the incident but also said he had actually warned his father about certain possibilities.
The judge said there was information before the court of Cambridge not following up the treatment regime after his discharge in 2019.
He further noted that Cambridge committed the offence three months after being released from prison and without treatment or supervision.
The judge said it is clear from the report that Cambridge’s medication is important for him to enjoy some level of a normal life.
He said the court had concluded that it would have to supervise Cambridge’s treatment.
The judge said that in the absence of sentencing guidelines, the court would adopt the precedent set in the case of Jurani Baptiste, a mentally ill man who a judge ordered in May be detained at the court’s pleasure for killing a woman during a 2016 psychotic episode.
The judge ordered that Cambridge be detained at court’s pleasure, during which he will continue to receive medical care for his condition.
Cambridge is to be brought back before the court in five years for an evaluation regarding whether he can be safely released back into society.
If the court determines that he is not, he will be re-evaluated every two years until the court is satisfied that he can be released.