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The defendants, Leisha Johnson, right, and Paige Baptiste after a court appearance on June 7, 2024.
The defendants, Leisha Johnson, right, and Paige Baptiste after a court appearance on June 7, 2024.
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The two Greiggs women who attacked another female villager with a cutlass, leaving her with a cut to the face have been jailed despite the pleas of their lawyer that they be spared jail time.

On Tuesday, High Court judge Justice Rickie Burnett held that Paige Baptiste, 21, and Lesha Johnson, 24, were “women of straw and in no position to pay a fine or compensation”.

The court, therefore, held that custodial sentences were most appropriate.

Baptiste was 17 when she committed the offence and the judge sentenced her to seven years and four months in prison, two-thirds of the time she would have had to serve had she been an adult when she committed her crime. 

The court subtracted from each defendant’s sentence the three months and 14 days they spent on remand, leaving Baptiste with a further seven years and 16 days in prison. 

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However, Johnson, who was 20 at the time of the offence, was ordered to serve a further eight years, eight months and 16 days in prison, the court having reduced her sentence by an additional five years in the interest of justice.

The duo were originally charged with attempted murder in connection with the Jan. 29, 2020 attack on  Z’annie Charles, who was a 16-year-old student at the time. 

However, the charge was reduced to grievous bodily harm and a jury convicted both women.

The judge said both accused showed no respect for the law and authority, adding that young people must learn to restrain themselves when confronted with issues daily.

He said the court must send a strong message to St. Vincent and the Grenadines that violence has no place in the country and rather than being tolerated, should be punished.

Baptiste played the leading role in the attack and the injuries the virtual complainant sustained were “serious, though not life-threatening,” Justice Burnett said.

Zannie Charles
The virtual complainant, Z’Annie Charles outside the Serious Offences Court in Kingstown on Feb. 3, 2020. (iWN photo)

The women faced a maximum of life imprisonment, a notional sentence of 30 years. 

Justice Burnett established a starting point of 18 years in prison for each defendant.

Aggravating of the offence was that the attack was unprovoked and committed in the presence of others, including a child.  

Mitigating of the offence was that a photograph tendered in evidence showed Baptiste in a position that satisfies significant provocation.

After considering the mitigating and aggravating features of the offence, the judge reduced Baptiste’s sentence by three years.

There was nothing aggravating of the offenders and the judge said they were previously of good character, meaning that they had no previous conviction.  

Other mitigating features were that the defendants were relatively young, lacked maturity and showed genuine remorse.

The court concluded that the mitigating features of the offenders outweighed the aggravating features and deducted four years from each defendant’s sentence. 

The facts of the case are that on Jan. 29, 2020, at Greiggs, between 6 and 7 p.m., Charles went by her friend Sabisha Benson’s home to seek her help with a ride to the Biabou Police Station to make a report against Baptiste and Johnson.

She was accompanied by some friends, including Kia Haywood and Aboni Edwards.

Whilst in Benson’s porch waiting for the ride, Baptiste and Johnson, along with two friends were walking up the road in the direction towards Charles and her friends. 

Leisha Johnson and Paige Baptiste
The defendants, Leisha Johnson, right, and Paige Baptiste return to prison after the hearing on Friday, June 7, 2024.

Baptiste and Johnson stopped briefly at a 3D booth in a yard near Benson’s porch. 

When they left the booth and were walking past Benson’s porch, Baptiste began “throwing words” for Charles saying, “Murdoo ah war put pickney in a lap and feed dem fuh nah come ah road” and “watch nuh, ah you me want” to which Charles replied, “well come nuh”. 

Baptiste and Johnson continued walking up the street making threatening remarks to the effect that Charles had to walk in front of her gate to go home and when she did she would beat her with a shovel and that she had better walk another route instead.

The defendants went to Baptiste’s home, collected a cutlass and headed back down the road. 

In the meantime, Charles and her friends joined another friend, Akeem Fergus who was sitting on Maxine Nero’s steps. Whilst there, Baptiste and Johnson returned: Baptiste armed with a cutlass in her right hand while Johnson had a knife. 

Baptiste went directly on the steps where  Charles was and stood in front of her, while Johnson stood behind her. 

Baptiste then pointed the cutlass at Charles’ face, pushed her in the chest telling her, “Look me now, do me what yo say you will do me.”

Charles responded, “Well, Paige, do me way you want do me” and reciprocated the push. 

Baptiste pushed Charles again causing her to bump into Johnson, who then held on to Charles.

A fight ensued, during which Baptiste was “planning” Charles with the cutlass while Johnson was pelting stabs at her, one of which injured Charles on her forehead.

At one point, Baptiste held the cutlass aiming to stab Charles. However, her friend Malika pushed her causing her to fall and the cutlass fell out of her hand. 

When Baptiste got up she saw that Charles had the upper hand in the fight, she pushed Malika telling her to move because she had to chop Charles in her face. 

Baptiste lifted the cutlass and slashed Charles in her face. 

Charles was hospitalised and had to undergo surgery to repair the injuries, which healed with a permanent scar.

On Friday, the defendant’s lawyer, Linton Lewis asked the court not to impose a custodial sentence and suggested that Charles be awarded EC$5,000 in compensation.

He also suggested that the judge order his clients to perform community service.