From the Courts
September 9, 2014
Taxi man fined $300 for biting colleague

One taxi man was made to pay for his mouth yesterday, after being found guilty at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court of biting another taxi operator on his right index finger.{{more}}

St Elmore John was found guilty of wounding fellow taxi operator, Brenton Gurley, while they were both on duty at the Grenadines Wharf on July 16, 2014. He was made to pay compensation of $300 forthwith or spend one month in prison.

John was also placed on a six-month bond of $1,500, which he will pay if the bond is broken or spend six months in prison.

According to the statement given by Gurley in court, he was at the wharf with two tourists, whom he had intended to take to the airport. The taxi operator stated that he had gone to take the luggage to the vehicle, when John approached the guests and told them that he could give them a better price.

Gurley said that he asked John “what foolishness he saying” and John began to assault him by putting his hand in his face. The virtual complainant further stated that he asked John to stop assaulting him and had put his right hand up in the process, palm facing outwards.

He indicated that it was at this point that John bit his index finger and told him (Gurley) that he would “bite it off clean.”

In his statement to the court, John declared that he was the one who was assaulted by Gurley.

The Choppins resident said that Gurley was always interfering with him and he made reference to a similar matter that had taken place in February of this year.

When questioned by prosecution, John said that he did not make a report of the incident to the police until the day after, when he realized that Gurley had done so on the day before.

According to the report that he made, 60-year-old John said that he saw that the tourists were walking with Gurley, but then Gurley left them and went to his vehicle. He stated that he asked the tourists if they needed a taxi.

John also indicated in his report that Gurley came back from his vehicle and pushed him in his face and told him to move. He said that Gurley attempted to poke him in the eye and when he moved his head, Gurley’s index finger ended up in his mouth and he bit down on it and held it with his teeth. Additionally, John stated that when Gurley attempted to pull his finger out of his mouth, that is when his teeth cut him.

“No one had them (tourists) under control,” John said in reply to a question from the prosecutor.

“He brought them, left them on a wall seat and went back in his taxi to sit down.”

John added that he did not act out of malice for Gurley and that Gurley’s finger was only in his mouth for “a few seconds.”

“I can’t handle a big, strong guy like that. He put his finger in my mouth,” John said about Gurley, who is physically bigger than him.

Counsel Andreas Coombs, who defended John in the matter, told the court that judgment should be made based on which account of the incident seems more plausible and believable.

Making reference to the medical report, Coombs revealed that the injury was a one centimetre laceraction on the front of Gurley’s finger which would suggest that there was no sort of intention to cause injury to his finger on John’s part.

He further stated that, given the nature of the injury, the defendant’s account of the incident seems more believable and plausible.

Prosecutor in the matter Inspector Glenford Gregg told the court that in the prosecution’s view, the incident was both unlawful and malicious and that John was not defending himself.

“If you believe that he was defending himself, acquit him,” Gregg said. “The act was unlawful and malicious and he, Mr John, was the aggressor at all times.”

Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias described the incident as being ridiculous and horrific.

“The main tragedy is…the impact that the incident will have on the tourist industry,” she said.

“Could you imagine this playing down on mainland? Others could have seen it. It’s disgraceful. Our economy is already fragile with that. Come on!”(BK)