A MAN WILL have the next 19 months in prison to contemplate putting down the drink that caused him to kick and beat his estranged wife, slap his children who rushed to the aid of their mother, and chop his nine-year-old son with a cutlass meant for his mother.
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne told the 36-yearold defendant Darnley Porter, noting that this was a saying that came from a “very good book.”
“There’s also another expression therein that says be not drunk with wine wherein its excess,” she told him.
The defendant admitted his guilt to the charges of assault bodily harm of his estranged wife, 39-yearold Linda Porter, and the assault bodily harm of his nine-year-old son, and 14 year old daughter; and additionally, with the wounding of his 12-yearold daughter. The defendant and Linda had been in a relationship for 21 years, and married for 11, but were separated for 24 months and living apart at the time of the incident.
On July 16, in Ottley Hall, Darnley went to Linda’s home in Ottley Hall, before leaving her home and going to his own home, also in Ottley Hall. Darnley later returned and was arguing with Linda, saying that something had been removed from outside of his premises. He was blaming Linda’s brother for the act, and continued arguing. In his anger, he also called his former lover “ill names”. The defendant then pushed Linda onto cardboard, and kicked her in her stomach with great force. The three children went to their mother’s assistance, but the father pushed his 12-year-old daughter, boxing her in her mouth. He pushed both of his daughters outside of the bedroom, and took a cutlass from underneath the bed. He swung this towards Linda’s face, and it missed. The cutlass hit his son in his face, and both daughters re-entered the bedroom, and grabbed onto their father. Their mother ran out of the bedroom, but their father pursued her. Linda jumped through a window to get to another bedroom. The 14-year-old went into her bedroom and was phoning her grandmother, when her father entered her bedroom and slapped her twice on either side of her face.
The matter was reported to the police who picked up Darnley.
Linda and her daughters appeared in the Serious Offences Court yesterday, July 19, (the son was sitting exams), and when the magistrate was commenting on his having hurt them, the defendant said that he had been drinking.
The mother was asked how she felt, and she responded that she wasn’t “too bad”. She said that she thinks that it is over. “I have forgiven him but I want a restraining order” against him, she responded. However, the SOC is not the court for this.
She also revealed that it wasn’t the first time, “it’s something that always happens.”
The court also observed that the children appeared fearful.
Prosecutor, Sergeant Renrick Cato commented that it is always “sad and sickening” when a wife has to bring her husband to court because of violence, and in this case it is the wife and children.
The defendant’s admission that he was drunk is “unacceptable”, Cato submitted.
He reiterated that the defendant had hit a woman and three children, and “…To believe that your hands are not hitting hard enough, you gone for a cutlass.”
“Although his wife is saying ‘I forgive him’ tears coming out of her eyes, saying I forgive him. And to add to that, she said, it was not the first time, it’s something that always ah happen,” the prosecutor pointed out.
While he observed that one of the girls had been hiding behind the other in court, Darnley commented that his eldest daughter had always been shy.
Cato also commented on the range of violent actions done by Darnley.
“My submission to the court at this point in time as it relates to the sentence of the defendant is that the court should send a strong message to all persons who are
involved in these kinds of offences – persons who have the intention of committing these kinds of offences,” the Sergeant noted. The message should be strong enough that “…it will cause a deterrent, it will cause other persons to think twice, when it comes to the abuse of women in St Vincent and the Grenadines, whether it be your wife, girlfriend, children, or whoever.”
This is the type of offence that warrants a prison term, he said. “…Let the offender get time to sit and relax in the prison to come to his senses – ‘why am I here? Why am I here? Because I beat my wife, and I beat my children’”.
The magistrate stood down the matter for a while, and when delivering her sentence began by noting that the facts showed that the defendant had been drunk, and “you(the defendant) alleged that after the incident you were told what happened and what transpired.”
“…What came out from the facts is that you were in fact raging” the magistrate said.
“…These elements surfaced – it surfaced that you pushed, and you kicked the abdomen of a woman, same area that would have pushed your children born to you…” “The facts came out that you slashed, that you swung a cutlass, that you chased and to seek refuge, one of the virtual complainants had to flee through a window,” Browne revised.
“..One called the grandmother for assistance and it is only by God’s grace really that (the youngest) was not hurt worse by the cutlass which was swung,” she added.
The magistrate noted, “The fear that was seen on the face of the complainant was very clear, and you should know and understand your role as a protector and provider, not a provider of licks and boxing and slaps, that we heard, and kicking, to your family members… and swinging cutlasses at complainants who were as young as nine years of age.”
The court also considered that all members had to receive medical attention.
The magistrate began at 18-months imprisonment for wounding and 15 months for the assault bodily harm charges.
In considering the aggravating factors of the offence it was considered that the victims, women and children, were vulnerable. Further, there was a breach of trust, and the offence happened in what was supposed to be the safety of their home.
“…The court also considered the psychological impact that such an attack or such actions would have on the children as well as, no doubt, on the wife,” Browne stated.
Another element was Darnley’s attitude, as he was considered to have shown to remorse at all. “You said quite bluntly ‘well I was drunk, is after I hear about that,’ and under your breath, while the prosecutor was making his representation, ‘so the court go want tek me way from my children at this critical stage in their life’” the judicial officer recounted.
The defendant was sentenced to a prison term of 19 months for wounding and 17 months for assault causing bodily harm.
Both prison terms will run concurrently.