From the Courts
February 27, 2009
Bequia man guilty of manslaughter

March 20th, 2009, is the date that Bequia resident, Angus Penniston will be sentenced at the High Court for manslaughter.{{more}}

It took about one and a half hours of deliberations for the nine-member jury to reach a guilty verdict. The 30-year-old was found guilty of causing the death of 50-year-old Vinnie “Brocco” Baptiste of Sandy Bay on August 12, 2007, at Bequia.

The court heard that around 7pm that night, the accused was the disc jockey at a party when he went outside in the main road to get some fresh air. The deceased, who was on sitting on a wall nearby, got up from where he was and shoved the accused. The accused then boxed Baptiste in his chest. Baptiste then fell dead on the spot. A post mortem report indicated that he died from blunt trauma to the chest.

However, Penniston’s attorney Grant Connell was of the opinion that the deceased did not just die from blunt trauma to the chest.

The evidence given by District Medical Officer in Bequia, Dwight Robinson, stated that Baptiste died as a result of blunt trauma to the chest, but a medical certificate showed that he also died from cardio megaly, uncontrolled hypertension and cardiac arrest. Connell objected to the admissibility of Dr Robinson performing the post mortem, as he was not a surgical pathologist. He submitted that it was not a medical report and that Robinson did not hold the post of a Pathologist. His objections were, however, overruled by Justice Gertel Thom.

In response, Robinson said that as District Medical Officer, it is a requirement to perform post mortems.

Robinson told the court that he when he went to the scene, the deceased was lying face down on the pavement, with lacerations to the side of his face.

Under cross-examination by Connell, Robinson said he did not have the medical history of the deceased when the post mortem was carried out. Connell suggested that it was heart attack, cardio megaly and hypertension that caused the death of the accused. Dr Robinson, however, said it was not possible. The doctor also agreed that in falling into the trench, Baptiste could have sustained the injuries found on his body.

In a no-case submission that did not hold water with Justice Thom, Connell said that the prosecution’s evidence was tenuous and inconsistent. He said that the medical evidence did not reflect the true cause of Baptiste’s death. (KW)