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A police officer escorts the defendant, Bally Alexander back to prison on Friday, May 31, 2024.
A police officer escorts the defendant, Bally Alexander back to prison on Friday, May 31, 2024.
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A 25-year-old man was Friday sentenced on two gun-related charges, one week after he attempted to change his pleas from guilty to not guilty while a judge was sentencing him.

Bally Alexander, of Stubbs/Victoria Village, smiled as Justice Rickie Burnett read out the sentence for the aggravated burglary charge.

However, Alexander was no longer smiling when the judge handed down a longer sentence on the second count, possession with intent, and informed him that he would begin serving it after completing the current sentence.

There was drama at High Court No. 2, on May 17, when Alexander blurted out that he was not guilty as Burnett was far advanced in his sentencing remarks.

During the May 17 hearing, Alana Cumberbatch appeared for the Crown in the matter and Shirlan “Zita” Barnwell acted amicus for Alexander.

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Alexander was indicted for aggravated burglary and possession of a firearm or imitation firearm with intent to commit an offence. He pleaded not guilty during his arraignment on Sept. 20, 2022.

A jury was empanelled on Jan 22, 2024, but two days later, Alexander asked that the indictment be read to him again and he pleaded guilty to both counts.

Gunman outside house at night

The facts, the judge said, are that the virtual complainant, Valarie Bullock lives in Calder with her husband and son.

She secured her home on Jan. 9, 2021, about 7 p.m. by locking all doors and windows. She retired to bed with her son, who occupies one of the bedrooms.

About 12:03 a.m. on Jan. 10, Bullock heard noises coming from outside. She looked outside and saw a white bookbag on her porch that she had not seen earlier when she secured the house.

Bullock woke her son and asked him to check the cameras on the house. A man was seen on the porch with a gun in his hand. Bullock checked the porch again and saw that the bookbag was gone.

The door to the house was checked in the morning and was found to be damaged.

The matter was reported to the police and Alexander was arrested. He gave electronic interviews to police on Jan. 12 and Jan. 14, 2021. Alexander admitted to offences but said he was forced to commit them.

After discussing the contents of the social inquiry report, the judge went on to examine the sentencing submissions of the prosecution and the defence.

Bally Alexander outside house
Bally Alexander

When the judge began to discuss the sentences that the prosecution had suggested, Alexander said he wanted to change his plea.

Justice Burnett suspended the sitting for a few minutes. During the suspension, all the lawyers who were in court went into the judge’s chambers. It was not clear if this was related to what had transpired during the hearing.

When the hearing resumed, Justice Burnett noted that Alexander had said something loud enough for him to hear. He asked Alexander what he had said and Alexander said that he wanted to change his plea.

The defendant admitted that he had pleaded guilty and that he understood the process when he had done so. He, however, said his “mind was pressured because I was studying his case”.

Alexander said that everybody believed he was lying and he wanted to go about the case a different way.

Asked why he had a change of mind at that late stage in the proceeding, Alexander said:

“I never did premeditate this crime — like to do this crime. So, I decide to fight this case.”

He said that while he understood the difference between a guilty and not-guilty plea when he pleaded guilty, “My mind was not there.”

However, Cumberbatch noted that while a defendant can change their plea at any point before the sentence is passed, in considering the application, the court must have regard to whether or not Alexander understood what he was pleading to.

The defendant had been adamant about pleading guilty

The prosecutor reminded the court of the history of the matter, noting that a jury had been empanelled and the prosecution was about to make its opening address when Alexander indicated that he wanted to speak to a lawyer.

The court asked Barnwell to assist and she asked for time to speak to Alexander.

When Barnwell left, Alexander said he wanted to plead guilty and was very adamant about doing so, Cumberbatch said.

She reminded the court that Alexander had said he was forced to commit the offence.

The prosecution then informed him that this was a defence to the charge.

However, on hearing this, Alexander withdrew his explanation and insisted that he wanted to plead guilty.

“It is clear, based on what transpired, that he understood the offence that he was charged with and even when he was being advised that the explanation he offered could amount to a defence, he withdrew it from the court.”

Cumberbatch noted that the matter came up for hearing a number of times after Alexander pleaded guilty but he did not indicate that he wanted to change his plea.

The prosecutor said it appeared that Alexander wanted to change his plea for fear that the court was going to hand down a heavy penalty.

Bally Alexander 2
Bally Alexander, outside the Serious Offences Court on Jan. 2, 2023.

But Alexander told the judge that he had asked people in court that morning, including a police officer, if he could change his plea.

Counsel Carl Williams, who was at the bar table, told the court that Alexander had asked him that morning if he could change his plea.

Williams said he told Alexander that he could ask the court to allow him to change his plea but “it is up to the court to actually respond”.

On hearing this the judge said he was getting the impression that Alexander probably had taken steps before the sentencing commenced to indicate certain things.

Assistant Director of Public Prosecution Karim Nelson also informed the court that journalist Kenton Chance told him that he had seen Alexander with his hand up as if he wanted to say something to the court at the start of the sentencing remarks.

The judge said the additional information “changes things”.

However, Cumberbatch said “it could”, adding that she had not indicated in her earlier comments that a jury had been empanelled and was instructed to return a formal verdict of guilty.

“I am not sure that would impact anything,” the prosecutor said.

She further noted that Alexander was not a virgin to the law and understood the court process.

“… and he took a course of action understanding exactly what he was doing. And that is the court’s main consideration in deciding whether or not to vacate the plea and accept a new plea,” she said.

Barnwell suggests another lawyer advised Alexander

Zita Barnwell
Lawyer Shirlan “Zita” Barnwell, seen here in a March 17, 2023 photo.

Responding to the development, Barnwell said her situation was unique because the court had ordered her to assist Alexander for sentencing.

What had happened that day was “an unexpected development,” the lawyer said.

“He is now saying that something was operating on his mind. Yes, we do not want to open the floodgate, but that is how, sometimes, the justice system is. It goes up and down; it goes across. And when at the position to incarcerate someone, we want to make sure that it is seen that it was just and proportionate.”

Barnwell suggested that the court give a short adjournment for Alexander to seek legal advice.

“Let him understand the urgency of it,” Barnwell said, adding that someone besides her or the prosecutor could explain the law to Alexander.

Barnwell said the court could then proceed after Alexander was otherwise advised.

Alexander told the court that he could get a lawyer.

Cumberbatch suggested that he be given two weeks. The judge adjourned the matter to May 30.

Defendant not denying offence, new lawyer says

When the matter was called on Thursday, Cumberbatch informed the court that she was representing the Crown.

Williams informed the court that he could appear on Alexander’s behalf “to the extent that I had a conversation with the accused man. I explained the law in relation to that. I am not certain whether he is going to maintain his guilty plea.”

The lawyer said he had explained to Alexander the things that could be in his favour if he maintained the guilty plea.

“I explained that to him and that is the most I can do for him at this time,” Williams told the court.

The judge explained to Williams where he was in the sentencing exercise.

Carl Williams
Lawyer Carl Williams in a Dec. 21, 2023 photo.

Williams said Alexander was not denying that he committed the offence but said that someone had forced him.

When the judge addressed Alexander, the defendant said he wanted to maintain his guilty plea.

He, however, said that no one was considering what he had said about being forced to commit the offence.

“But I getting a sentence like I pre-meditate this,” Alexander said.

However, Williams said that he had explained to Alexander that the court would consider all of this when sentencing him.

The judge informed Williams that the court had received sentencing submissions and a supplemental plea in mitigation from Barnwell.

“So, the court is in a position to continue with the sentence,” Williams said.

‘I will like to continue with my guilty plea’

Alexander told the court that he had gone to the police station and told them everything about the crime, including “certain things to get in contact with this guy” — who he said forced him to commit the offence.

He said the court would look at him as a liar but the police did not investigate the information he had given them.

“I will like to continue with my guilty plea,” Alexander said.

He told the court that he was serving a sentence and asked that any additional prison time run concurrent with that sentence.

However, Cumberbatch told the court that while Alexander said he turned himself in to the police, he did not say that he did so after police released the video of him outside the house.

“He did turn himself in but in the first interview, he vehemently denied that he was involved in any way in the commission of the offence,” the prosecutor said.

“It was during a second interview that he admitted his involvement and stated that he was forced,” she said.

Cumberbatch further said that when the trial was about to begin, the prosecution informed him that his allegation that he acted under duress was a total defence, but Alexander said he wanted to plead guilty.

She said her suspicion that Alexander attempted to change his plea because he feared the court was handing down a hefty sentence was confirmed in his comments that morning.

“He has had a change of heart and the court can continue to sentence him,” the prosecutor said.

Cumberbatch, however, said that concurrent sentences to the existing one were not applicable as they were separate offences based on different facts and circumstances.

The judge further adjourned the sentencing to the next day.

Rickie Burnett 240119
Justice Rickie Burnett in a Jan.19, 2024 photo.

Smile turns to grimace  

Handing down the sentence on Friday, Justice Burnett pointed out that Alexander faced a maximum of life imprisonment for the aggravated burglary charge and 25 years for possession with intent.

Alexander smiled as he heard the judge establish a starting point of six years for the aggravated burglary charge.

His smile widened as the sentence fell to four years and six months after the judge had adjusted the prison term for the aggravating and mitigating features of the offence and the guilty plea.

However, Alexander’s smile narrowed when Justice Burnett established a starting point of 10 years imprisonment for the possession with intent charge.

By the time the adjustments were made for the aggravating and mitigating feature of the offence and the discount was applied for the guilty plea, Alexander was still left with a sentence of nine years and six months.

Both of those sentences would run concurrently.

No smile was discernible on his face by this time.

Alexander’s face had returned to his usually menacing demeanour by the time the judge was done discussing the totality principle and ordered that the sentence of nine years and six months run consecutive to the sentence that he was serving.

The judge also ordered that Alexander undergo two years of counselling with a counsellor at the prison. The court is to be provided with reports every six months.

Alexander was serving a sentence of four years and two months that the Serious Offences Court imposed on him in February 2023.

He had told that court that he would come out of prison “fresh” after serving what he had speculated would have been a five-year sentence for having in his crotch an unlicensed .9mm pistol loaded with six rounds of 9mm ammunition.

Police nabbed him with the gun and ammunition in Lowmans Leeward on Jan. 2, 2023.

The court sentenced him to four years and two months for the firearm and eight months for the ammunition and ordered that the sentences run concurrently.

4 replies on “Gunman tries to change plea as judge was sentencing him”

  1. Carl Maylor says:

    I’m sorry but that’s a lot of writing and believe could be shortened to get to the facts and conclusion??? But alas he’s been sentenced shame the judge never give him double the time only law knows why time is taken off ???

  2. Vincy Lawyer says:

    One long ass unnecessary writing where the salient points could have been summarized. Secondly, Bally was fair-skinned in the first camera footage picture; and in the seconf picture, he’s now he black? Please verify if all the pics are captioned CORRECTLY!

  3. Throw them back until I lose count. I gonna swing from the chandelier. I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist.

Comments closed.