Advertisement 87
Advertisement 211
The defendant, Cornelius Kennedy looks in the direction of the Central Market, the scene of one of his Dec. 2, 2021 attacks, as he is returned to prison on March 25, 2024.
The defendant, Cornelius Kennedy looks in the direction of the Central Market, the scene of one of his Dec. 2, 2021 attacks, as he is returned to prison on March 25, 2024.
Advertisement 219

The mentally ill man who killed one man and injured two others in Kingstown on Dec. 2, 2021, a “day of mayhem and violence” in the city has been sentenced to 12 years and eight months in prison.

It is the longest of the three sentences imposed on Cornelius Kennedy, 32, of Lowmans Hill in connection with the attacks in the city that left Lanceworth Wilson, 62, dead.

However, after the time spent on remand was deducted, Kennedy was left to serve a further 10 years, four months and six days from last Wednesday. 

During the sentencing hearing in Kingstown, Justice Richard Floyd also imposed a sentence of five years and four months in connection with injuries sustained by Cedric Codougan, then 42-year-old vendor.

“The victim in this case was seriously injured. His facial bones were fractured and he suffered with residual long-lasting injuries, including visual impairment. He lost his livelihood,” the judge said.

Advertisement 21

“It is unfortunate, however, that he chose to discharge himself from hospital prematurely.” 

The court also sentenced Kennedy to eight months imprisonment for assaulting Junior Baptiste, occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH).

Kennedy was granted a one-third discount for his early guilty plea on each of the charges and the sentences will run concurrently.

Kennedy began showing signs of mental illness at age 9 and was first hospitalised at the Mental Health Rehabilitation Centre (MHRC) when he was 13.

The last psychiatric report, dated May 21, 2023, details his history of mental illness. At that time, he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and mild intellectual disability.

Justice Floyd also ordered that while incarcerated, Kennedy be assessed for and receive treatment and counselling for substance abuse, psychiatric illness and mental health issues.

Following his release from custody, Kennedy is to be monitored, assessed and treated for ongoing psychiatric and mental health issues by the mental health centre for two years. 

Reports are to be provided to the High Court every six months, the judge ordered.

On the charge of manslaughter (with diminished responsibility), Kennedy faced a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The court should have sentenced him to a maximum of 14 years for wounding and five for ABH.

‘an awful day of mayhem and violence’

The judge described as “an awful day of mayhem and violence” the events of Dec. 2, 2021, when Kennedy attacked three people in the city with a metal pipe.  

Wilson died of his injuries on Jan. 5, 2022.

An autopsy concluded that he suffered a depressed skull fracture, with bleeding in the space between the brain and the membrane that covers it. 

Doctors had removed a section of his skull in an attempt to treat his injuries. The pathologist concluded that Wilson died of complications from blunt trauma to the head. 

On the date in question, witnesses observed Kennedy fighting with his brother near PH Veira Supermarket on Bay Street, Kingstown, at approximately 5:30 p.m. 

Kennedy had a knife. The fight was broken up and Kennedy ran off towards the Kingstown Vegetable Market, where he picked up a piece of steel and walked up the road. 

Just before six o’clock, a witness saw Kennedy in an altercation with Wilson, who the witness knew as Al.

Wilson grabbed Kennedy by the neck and Kennedy swung the piece of steel striking Wilson on the foot. 

This caused Wilson to double over and Kennedy struck him twice in the head. Wilson fell to the ground and Kennedy struck again in the head while he was down. 

Sometime later, Cedric Cadougan, 47, was talking along Backstreet, Kingstown when he suddenly felt a blow to the back of his head that caused him to lose consciousness and fall to the ground. 

His next memory was waking up in the Intensive Care Unit of Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. 

He suffered compound depressed fractures of the facial bones on the left side and bleeding. His sense of smell, memory and vision in his left eye have all been affected. 

However, he discharged himself from the hospital early and of his own volition.

Then, at about 7:30 p.m., Junior Baptiste, a security guard at the Kingstown Board Car Park saw him speaking angrily to some children on bicycles. 

Baptiste, who knew Kennedy, but not by name, spoke to him and Kenney turned and swung the piece of pipe at him. 

Baptiste bent down and raised his hand to deflect the blow and was struck in the left hand and left foot, but managed to grab the pipe and struggled with Kennedy.

Baptiste struck Kennedy with the pipe several times on his feet and other people came to Baptiste’s rescue.

They disarmed Kennedy, wrestled him to the ground and held him for police. 

Baptiste suffered swelling and damage to the muscles in his left hand. He was treated but not admitted to the hospital. 

‘no record of prescribed medication’

Justice Floyd said that the facts of the case confirmed that Kennedy was known to have mental health issues before the attacks in Kingstown.

After he was arrested, police took him to MHRC, from which police collected him on Jan. 6, 2022 — more than a month later and a day after 

At that time, the attending physician, Dr. Karen Providence, told police that Kennedy was fit to be interviewed.

However, during the scene visit with police the next day, Kennedy murmured and spoke incoherently.

Justice Floyd pointed out that while Kennedy later told police that he had drunk alcohol heavily on the day of the incident, no police officer indicated any observations of impairment. 

The judge further noted that there is no record of prescribed medication or a failure to take any at the time of the offence. This was despite Kennedy’s history of mental illness, dating back to when he was 9.

Defendant’s version 

In the pre-sentencing report, Kennedy provided a version of the events, telling authorities that he recalled that he had consumed alcohol and had been drinking heavily on the day of the incident. 

He said he had walked from the Central Market to PH Vieira Supermarket where he had gotten into a fight with his brother. 

Kennedy said he had picked up a nearby metal pipe. When a man approached and tried to disarm him, a struggle ensued. 

Kennedy said the pipe may have struck the man in the course of that altercation and the man may have fallen to the ground. 

Kennedy said he had walked away towards Singer store and another man had approached him.

He said that the man had previously threatened him so he had become frightened and had struck the man in the shoulder with the pipe. 

He told the social worker who prepared the report that he had been imprisoned for about two years in relation to the incidents.

Kennedy said that during that time he had had a good relationship with both inmates and prison staff. 

However, he viewed the time spent on remand as being wasteful. 

Kennedy said that had he not been incarcerated, he could have gone further with his work and his life. 

He said he feels bad because he was in prison and recognised that he would be there for a “long while” and intends to try not to get into any further trouble. 

Meanwhile, prison officials described Kennedy as a calm and cool individual who is willing to do any work assigned to him. 

However, he is easily triggered and had recently gotten into a fight with another inmate. 

The judge said that only the family of one of the victims cooperated in the production of a social inquiry report. 

Baptiste failed to appear for an interview and did not return phone calls. The author of the report was unable to make contact with any of Wilson’s family members but was able to reach Codougan.

Codougan has been seriously impacted by the incident. The entire left side of his face is damaged, including his ear, nose and eye. 

He has lost the vision in his left eye and suffers recurring headaches and has been unable to return to work. 

He requires ongoing care and the loss of his job led to the loss of his residence. His life is no longer stable, and he is effectively homeless. 

A victim impact report said Codougan’s life has been “miserable’ since the incident.

He suffers from pain and headaches. He is no longer working and finds it difficult to purchase medicine. 

“He is depressed and angry. He has lost his vision and intellect and has a facial scar. He requires financial assistance,” the judge quoted the report as saying. 

Kennedy ‘a threat’ to public safety 

The social inquiry report concluded that Kennedy is a threat to public safety and should have continuous mental health assessments and receive treatment. 

The judge said that the goal of sentencing is to promote respect for the law and an orderly society. 

 “This was an awful day of mayhem and violence carried out by the defendant on random and unsuspecting victims. It must have shocked the inhabitants of the city of Kingstown,” Justice Floyd said.

“A man was bludgeoned to death on a busy public street, and two others were struck with the same piece of steel pipe.” 

Justice Floyd said the court was satisfied that Kennedy was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the offence. 

“Witness statements confirmed that members of the public were aware of the defendant’s condition before this incident, as he is unfortunately referred to as the ‘crazy man’,” the judge said.

He pointed out that this accords with the formal findings of mental ill health in the psychiatric report, dated May 21, 2023

Kennedy was well known to the staff at the Mental Health Centre from several admissions, and his re-admissions were “often associated with violent behaviours in public places”, the judge said, citing one of the presentencing reports, adding that that was exactly what happened in the case. 

For causing Wilson’s death, the court established a starting point in 14 years imprisonment.

The judge noted that the offence involved the use of a weapon — a steel pipe and increased the sentence by two years for this aggravating feature.

As regards mitigating factors, the court said there was no premeditation evidenced in committing the offence, adding that it was a random act of violence committed by someone who was “obviously in an angry and agitated state, judging by the other two attacks he carried out in that same evening”.

The judge reduced the sentence to 0.5 years, taking it to 15.5 years. 

Kennedy has a criminal record, however, the relevant convictions for crimes of violence are considered spent and were not taken into account as an aggravating factor. 

By way of mitigation, the court noted that Kennedy “feels bad” about what happened, but also equated that with being in prison, knowing he would be there for a long while. 

The court was not convinced that this rose to the level of genuine remorse referred to in the sentencing guidelines. 

The court also noted that Kennedy was “somewhat helpful” to the authorities and the police investigation. 

The judge, however, said that with the eyewitness statements and evidence, that assistance was reduced.

The court, however, took into account the significant history of mental health issues that Kennedy suffers from. 

“Those mental health issues, balanced with the severity of these crimes of violence, demonstrate the conundrum presented to the sentencing court in a case like this.

“The conditions under which prisoners on remand with mental health issues served their time in this jurisdiction is also taken into account by the court under this heading,” the judge said.  

He said this highlights the need for not only more trained psychiatric professionals but also for secure forensic in-patient facilities in this jurisdiction.

3 replies on “Mentally ill man who killed 1, injured two others in ‘day of mayhem and violence’ sentenced”

  1. What measures are in place to stop this from happening again? We see too many mentally ill person’s on the road with weapons.

  2. As far as I see, the best thing to do is carry out CONSTANT monitoring of mentally ill persons. A normal person has a right to defend himself or herself, the right to Safety, not allowing oneself to be injured or killed by a crazy individual. In doing so, he or she will hopefully NOT desire to kill the mentally ill person, but to stop the crazy person from inflicting serious harm or death. In the meantime, I am urging all to keep a close eye on any mentally challenged person, especially if he or she has a weapon. Try to stay as far as possible from them, especially when they are “chipping” off.

Comments closed.