A man’s 12-year-old daughter had to intervene when he was attacking her mother with a cutlass, but the young girl could not get the weapon away from her father.
“You could have killed her you know?” Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett told Kennyatta Diamond, a 47-year-old tradesman of Rillan Hill who was charged with wounding the mother of his children, 34-year-old gardener Orthenique Thomas, as well as chopping her sandals worth EC$100.
On November 22 in the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court(KMC), Diamond said that he was frustrated and intoxicated. He said they argued when he heard some news about her and he went home to question her.
“You are likely to be separated from her this morning, meaning that you are likely to be sleeping in a cell from today. You can’t go with a cutlass at somebody like that and expect to walk out of this courtroom as though nothing happened because something happened,” Burnett told the defendant.
The facts presented to the court are that Thomas and Diamond had disagreements but she had forgiven him. The two have three children together, aged 13, 12 and 5 years.
On November 19 Thomas went to Kingstown with her friend and was hanging out and drinking. When she returned home she and Diamond got into an argument. As a result she went to a different home. On November 20, at 6:00 a.m, Thomas was asleep when Diamond came and woke her up.
When she opened her eyes he was standing over her with a cutlass in his right hand. He began arguing blaming her for allowing someone to steal their daughter’s tablet and bluetooth speaker. He raised the cutlass and started to throw chops at his girlfriend of 20 years. In fending him off, Thomas raised her hand and held the cutlass. Her 12-year-old daughter also attempted to take the cutlass but was unsuccessful.
When the children started to scream, Diamond asked Thomas to leave. She was in the bathroom packing up her clothes when Diamond is said to have entered and hit her twice on her body with the cutlass, apparently telling her he is going to run her blood.
He also applied the cutlass to a pair of her sandals.
According to the medical report, Thomas had wounds to the right and left flank region, an abrasion to the left wrist and wounds on the fourth finger and thumb of the right hand.
This was said to be the defendant’s first criminal conviction. However, although this was denied by Diamond, Thomas had apparently gone to the police in the past concerning him but had opted not to press any charges.
When the magistrate was voicing that Diamond would likely be sleeping in a cell that night, he also asked Thomas whether she was employed.
She said that she is not right now. She had apparently been working part time at the printery but was laid off.
“…See that is the headache that I get in this court all the time with these domestic matters,” the magistrate noted, “99% of the time the ladies, unfortunately, are depending on the man for survival and that is why they …end up being abused like this, because the man is aware that her survival is dependent upon him.”
The defendant is paying for her maintenance and the children’s as well, Thomas informed the court.
“..These are hard issues you know, these are really hard issues because I can put him away in the prison and he’ll be there for a while but then I mean, the children will be looking at her and…” the magistrate contemplated.
When asked, Thomas said that she didn’t want him to go to jail, just not to be violent with her.
Burnett submitted that Diamond was not likely to stop this behaviour based on his life experience. “And one of the ways of stopping him is separating him from you and having him housed at the prison for a while and he will sit back and reflect on what he has done, or what he could have done as well,” the judicial officer told her.
He queried aloud how the defendant could have attacked her with a cutlass because he had heard certain things.
“Well that’s not the way you solve conflict sir,” Burnett told Diamond.
Before deciding on the matter the magistrate decided to engage the prosecutor, Corporal Corlene Samuel.
“Prosecutor Samuel the complainant is saying to the court that if I am to send him to prison the family is going to suffer from tonight. I don’t know, these are difficult things you know?” he said to her.
I guess that’s the reason why she kept going back,” Samuel said.
It was also revealed that the two share a house in Rillan Hill, and have been doing so for two years.
The magistrate said he could go ahead and “do what I have to do”, “but it’s about her as well.”
He considered that one way of tackling the situation would be to apply a suspended sentence so that a jail term was hanging over his head.
Diamond was facing the magistrate with his back turned to the court in the dock, therefore his face was not visible to some in the courtroom, but something about his demeanour caused the magistrate to comment, “Playing badman with cutlass and now want to put tears in his eyes…badman don’t cry…when they come court you hear me? You need to stop it.”
After standing down to consider Burnett decided not to send the tradesman to prison on that day, but to have a prison sentence hang over his head.
He imposed an 18 month jail term which will be suspended for 12 months. Should Diamond breach the laws within 12 months the 18-month term will be activated in addition to whatever other punishment he receives for any new offence.
The magistrate also placed the defendant on a bond for one year in the sum of $5000. If that is breached he will have to pay the sum forthwith or go to prison for 12 months.
He told Thomas that if Diamond abuses her again to go to the police because he needs to be stopped “by will or by force,” noting that there is always a risk involved when sentencing.
“How can you do that sir? Explain to me. She’s a human being, she’s a woman,” he told Diamond.
Burnett told the defendant that he was moving from one level to the next and to check himself. He said that he wanted him to stop which is why he was speaking to him in that way.
He also told Thomas that he did not want her to be dependent on Diamond, and instructed her to leave her information with his clerk
. “I’m going to try to do something for you, I could only try, okay?”