Fifty-three-year old Benjamin Jackson, a shopkeeper of Glen, was sentenced to eight years in prison on Thursday for the killing of fellow villager, twenty-nine-year old Christopher Allan Rouse.
According to information, Rouse was at Jackson’s shop and there was a dispute between the two. Someone to Rouse home but he returned, in the wee hours of the morning. The dispute arose again and there was a struggle in which Rouse was choking Jackson. To get some relief, Jackson reached for a pair of scissors and stabbed Rouse in the neck.
Rouse died at the door of the mobile police station in Glen shortly after her walked there and declared to law officers on November 1, 2015, that Jackson had stabbed him.
Jackson was arrested and later indicted for murder. While he was on remand for murder, his lawyer Jomo Thomas wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions (acting) Sejilla Mc Dowall offering a plea of guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
At the sentencing hearing on Thursday, Thomas told the High Court that clearly there was a history of harassment between the accused and deceased man. He said there was no premeditation in Rouse’s death and that there was no evidence to support the charge of murder.
Thomas said he wrote to the DPP on April 30, this year, offering a guilty plea on the lesser charge of manslaughter but it was not until recently that the DPP said they were open to the offer.
The DPP’s offer to accept the plea to the lesser charge came at the height of the trial when the prosecution had already put forward its evidence and the court was about to hear closing submissions.
Thomas told the court on Thursday that it was no fault of his client that the guilty plea came at the time it did. He also told the court that “trouble came to his door.”
Justice Brian Cottle, on handing down sentence, noted that the incident occurred at Jackson’s home early morning.
He also noted that the aggravating factor in the incident was that a weapon was used. The mitigating factor was that there was no pre-meditation and only one blow was delivered.
Justice Cottle said that in relation to aggravating factor for the accused there was none and that the mitigating factors were his remorse and the fact that he had no previous conviction.
Justice Cottle, in keeping with the guidelines set by the Eastern Caribbean Court, began with a notional starting point of a sentence of 15 years in prison. He said that the mitigating factors far outweighed the aggravating factors and so he subtracted three years, bringing it to twelve years.
He then gave one-third discount for the guilty plea, bringing it further down to eight years.At the time of sentencing, Jackson had already spent three years, one month and nine days on remand. The time spent on remand is to be deducted from the sentence imposed.
Jomo, I would advise the man to get a new lawyer to make a case that you erred in judgment when representing this client. Jomo, it would be nice if you went and gave him that advice yourself.
Whatever happened to manslaughter [of a perfect status] during self-defense? Your client was being strangled; his life was in danger; he reached out and clasped a pair of scissors. Using the scissors was not predetermined, with no premeditation, indeed no intent to kill.
Jomo, you at the sentencing hearing on Thursday, told the High Court that there was no premeditation in Rouse’s death and that there was no evidence to support the charge of Murder.
I think this is a dreadful matter; the man has spent more than four years on remand. Had he appeared for trial in a reasonable time, and defense of self-defense applied, now knowing the circumstances he would have most likely been acquitted of Murder, there was inadequate evidence to convict of Murder.
A mistake in the application of the law, an error in pleadings, and an error in failing to apply all the mitigating circumstances. All of which only affect Mr. Jackson, while you Jomo, the Judge, and acting DPP are still walking about. I doubt any one of you will lose minutes sleep over this man.
We need to protect these shopkeepers like Mr. Jackson better, because people are always attacking them. In Jackson’s case, he was fighting off a strong young man of almost half his age.
Disgraceful, let’s hope we hear more about this very soon.