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Jeffery Cuffy outside High Court No. 1, in Kingstown on March 25, 2024.
Jeffery Cuffy outside High Court No. 1, in Kingstown on March 25, 2024.

A 35-year-old man with a long history of criminality, including a manslaughter conviction, has been jailed for 16 years for robbing a woman of an EC$200 cell phone at knifepoint.

The man, Jeffery Cuffy, denied the crime even as the sentence was about to be passed on him at High Court No. 2, in Kingstown on March 25.

High Court judge Justice Richard Floyd noted that Cuffy’s criminal record spans 13 years and consists almost entirely of relevant and related property offences.

“The defendant is someone who has seen the inside of His Majesty’s Prison on many occasions,” the judge said.

“His behaviour while incarcerated has been poor. Members of his community and family confirmed that his behaviour outside of jail is often equally troubling and frightening developments of criminality,” the judge said.

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He saw nothing mitigating in Cuffy’s favour and added two more years to the sentence.

After the four months and 21 days that Cuffy spent on remand was deducted from his sentence, he was left to serve a further 15 years, seven months and nine days.

Cuffy, who did not testify at his trial, maintained his innocence although he had hailed another man shortly before he used a handkerchief as a face mask while robbing the woman.

Justice Floyd said that although robbery is classified as an offence of dishonesty under the sentencing guidelines, Cuffy’s was a crime of violence, committed with a weapon in broad daylight in a public area.

“It was bold and brazen. A woman was set upon in the street while she waited to begin her shift at work,” the judge said.

He said the virtual complainant, Ulan Samuel, was quietly and peacefully going about her business when she “was menaced by a masked assailant brandishing a knife.

“Quite understandably, she reacted by running away in fear. She was pursued and her property, a cell phone, was violently wrenched from her hand.”

The judge said that a message of deterrence must be sent that “such aggressive behaviour in our streets will not be tolerated and will result in incarceration.

“People must feel safe and free to move about the streets of their community without fear of property crime and violence.”

Cuffy, whose address has been listed as Campden Park/Questelles/Sion Hill, had pleaded not guilty to the charge that on March 4, 2022, at Campden Park, being armed with a knife, he stole a cell phone valued at ECS200, Samuel’s property and at the time of so doing and in order to do so put the said Samuel in fear of being then and there subjected to force.

The cell phone was valued at EC$200.

On Feb. 19, a jury deliberated for just one hour and three minutes before finding him guilty of the charge.

The crime

The facts of the case are that Samuel works at Kendra’s Aluminium in Campden Park from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. but used to get to work at around 7 a.m.

On March 4, 2022, she got there after 7 a.m. and sat down on a wall outside the front gate of the plant, playing a game on her cell phone.

She saw a man coming from out of the gate of Eustace, located nearby. Samuel put her head down and went back to the game.

When Samuel looked up the man, later identified as Cuffy, was in front of her holding a knife.

A mask covered his lower face and he wore a white jersey and black short pants with a bag on his back.

Cuffy was less than a foot from Samuel when she got up and ran, bawling for help.

As she did so, she heard Cuffy saying, ‘Give me this! Give me this! Give me this!” and she realised it was her phone that he wanted.

Cuffy caught up with Samuel and pulled the cell phone out of her hand. He then turned and ran up the main road and into a gap.

Around the same time, Kino Delplesche, a security guard who knows Cuffy as “Black”, was on duty at a block plant in Campden Park.

He heard two people talking in the area of the gap so he looked over and saw Cuffy speaking with a man named Dan, who worked at a nearby bakery.

Dan left for Allan Smith Bakery and Cuffy went up the road to the area of the newspaper printery building.

The Kendra’s Aluminium building was about 100 feet away from Delplesche and the printery.

Delplesche saw Cuffy go towards the printery building and stop at the gate then put a black and white handkerchief around the lower part of his face.

At that point, a man came along and began a conversation with Delplesche and this took his attention away from Cuffy.

Delplesche then heard a woman bawling out for help and he turned and saw Cuffy running behind a woman saying “Give me that! Give me that!”

He saw a silver object in Cuffy’s hand but could not say what it was.

Delplesche later saw Cuffy pull something away from the woman. It was a black cell phone. The woman stepped back, cried out, hunched forward and crouched down.

Cuffy then ran down the road towards Delplesche but turned and went off in a different direction 20 yards from the gate to Kandra Aluminium.

Meanwhile, Dan Matthews, of Campden Park, was a driver for the bakery. He had known “Black” for about two years from the streets of Campden Park.

On March 4, 2022, Matthews was late for work so he took a shortcut and caught up with Cuffy, who hailed him and they walked together to the gap and the main road.

Jury rejects Alibi evidence 

Cuffy did not testify at his trial. However, police had interviewed him under caution as part of their investigation.

In the interview Cuffy told police said, “I did not have any knife” and “I do not know Ulan Samuel.”
He further told the detectives that he did not walk with Dan in Campden Park on the morning of March 4, 2022.

However, he qualified that by saying he knows more than one Dan in Campden Park and he would need to see the person the police referred to as Dan, to confirm who they were talking about.

When asked where he was on the morning of March 4, 2022, Cuffy said he was in Sion Hill and that “High Tie” could attest to this.

However, at the trial “High Tie” aka Solomon Laborde said Cuffy came by him many different times; he would pass by and visit.

However, Laborde told the court there was no schedule of when Cuffy would come by and he could not say whether Cuffy was or was not at his house on that day.

The jury rejected Cuffy’s alibi and found him guilty.

‘only God could change him’ 

After his conviction, Cuffy was interviewed for a social inquiry report. He told the social worker that his parents were absent from his childhood.

He maintained that he was innocent of the crime and said he was unhappy in prison as there was nothing good there and he could not come and go as he pleased.

One of Cuffy’s aunts said he has lived with her for the last five years and has been very helpful.

However, another relative described Cuffy as “not a good guy” and “he does not listen and smokes marijuana to excess”.

That person was not surprised by Cuffy’s crime.

Members of Cuffy’s community described him as “a troublemaker”, “violent”, “hostile”, “a bad guy”, “always involved in crime”, and “in and out of prison”.

They said he lived an unstable transient lifestyle, circumstances had shaped him and he had chosen a life of crime.

One person said “only God could change him” and community members were not surprised to learn of Cuffy’s crime.

Some of them said Cuffy should be locked away for the safety of the community and hoped that when released, he would find somewhere else to live.

‘an aggressive and violent troublemaker,’ prison authorities say

Meanwhile, prison authorities said Cuffy was constantly in and out of jail and was an aggressive and violent troublemaker.

He does not abide by prison rules and has threatened and used abusive language towards prison officers, resulting in institutional charges, enforced discipline and placement into solitary confinement.

In the report, the victim said she thought that she would have been killed during the robbery.

Samuel said that although she has recovered from the trauma of the incident, she often reflects on what happened and it causes her to be afraid of being alone when on the street.

The 48-year-old woman said she hopes and prays that she never experiences anything like that again, and wishes she could forget it.  

She said she was not going to testify out of fear and her daughter was worried about possible repercussions that might befall her mother for doing court.

Samuel, however, told the social worker she was happy that she testified.

She said the loss of the cell phone was significant as it was the first one she had ever bought for herself and she had worked hard to buy it.

Cuffy had asked for leniency and when the judge gave him an opportunity just before sentencing to say anything further, he denied committing the robbery.

The judge began with a starting point of 40% of the maximum sentence, or 12 years in prison.

Aggravating of the offence was Cuffy’s attempt to conceal his identity.

“The defendant knew exactly what he was doing and why he was doing it,” Justice Floyd said, adding that the offence was motivated by greed.

He noted that Cuffy stole an electronic item that could be either converted for personal use or quickly disposed of for profit.

Further, the phone was never recovered. It was very valuable to the victim.

There were no mitigating factors.

The court, therefore, increased the sentence by two years to 14 years in prison then added a further two for the aggravating features of Cuffy as an offender.

One reply on “Repeat offender gets 16 years for robbing woman of cell phone at knifepoint  ”

  1. He is where he belongs. St Vincent is now listed as the third most violent country in the world terms of homicide The government has presided over this phenomenon since they were first elected. We are on the same trajectory as Haiti. Homicide and tourism does mix waters.

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