The latest casualty of feuding groups in Greiggs and Lowmans Windward is a 69-year-old father who was chopped about his body because he shielded his son from harm.
The court sent a strong message to the battling factions, and yesterday, September 5 sentenced 23-year-old cutlass wielder and first-time offender, Tuckron Jacobs to three years imprisonment.
The court heard that the defendant and the victim, George Bristol, know one another well; they both live in Lowmans Windward.
However, Bristol’s son, Tyrone ‘Toney’ Maloney, resides in Greiggs.
There is said to be an ongoing dispute between some persons from the two communities and history involving ‘Toney’ and the defendant.
On the date of the incident, June 17, ‘Toney’ visited his parents’ home in Lowmans Windward at around 10:00 p.m, taking some provisions with him.
Afterwards, when his father was sitting and preparing ingredients to cook, ‘Toney’ began heading out of the yard.
He had not gone far when he was bombarded with stones being thrown at him from the top of the road. ‘Toney’ was struck on the head by one of the stones, and he fell to the ground. He struggled to get up, crawled back into the house and locked himself in his bedroom.
The volley of stones continued to land on the roof and windows of the house, causing damage.
The elderly man who had been sitting, saw Jacobs entering the yard, got up and locked the front door.
Jacobs said to the occupants of the house, “If allyuh nah send out Toney I killing everybody.” He beat on the door with a cutlass and found a way to open it.
However, not finding Toney, Jacobs chopped Bristol on his hands and head. He then used the cutlass to smash furniture and other items in the house before leaving.
The matter was reported to the police and investigations were carried out. On September 1, the police took men into custody and interviewed them about the incident.
Jacobs was charged with unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm. He was also charged alongside one, Keron Boyea with damaging a 3×3 aluminium window; a 4×3 louvre and aluminium window; a wooden and glass panel door; a big wooden table; a small wooden table; a purple dish; a curtain; a plastic table cloth; a water bottle and a sheet of galvanize. These together were valued at EC$2,020.
At the Serious Offences Court on Monday, September 5, Jacobs admitted his guilt on both charges.
The defendant’s reasoning for his actions seemed to be that his ‘soulja’ was badly injured in an altercation some months before and this was “defence”.
Chief Magistrate, Rechanne Browne highlighted the serious injuries, which included deep lacerations which Bristol suffered requiring stitches and also an open fracture. The victim had to spend three days in the hospital.
After listening to Jacobs, who kept referring to the previous altercation with his “soldier”, the magistrate noted, “That is not before the court.”
She informed him that it wasn’t justifiable to say, “George Bristol you watch the man chop the other one in the head the last time so this here is for that”.
Browne told him that every day is a new day, to have different actions.
“This is why persons come before the court. Exercising poor judgment. Now this man was injured in his head and took sutures,” the magistrate also said.
“Suppose he did drop down dead?” she asked Jacobs, implying that the charge would be one for murder and he would not be entitled to bail.
After some discussions, the magistrate observed, “even though I’m talking to you, in your head you’re still thinking ‘listen he damage my partner some months ago’ and it’s hard for you to deal with that. Hard for you to see that…”
Jacobs, a farmer, said he wasn’t a violent person and that he was hard working.
“You work hard. You know how to swing a cutlass good and proper because of that experience that you have. And you see if it happened on this day and it will continue to happen.”
“…As a young man in this community, what you have in your head is saying you have to defend your turf, you have to protect your people,” Browne said.
However, the magistrate noted that someone in Greiggs could be thinking the same thing after this incident.
“You all are too idle, too idle. And unfortunately, because of this, it’s going to result in lives being lost, potentially. Life being lost, blood being shed, fractured hands and fingers, deep lacerations…,” she stated, “and it will get crazy.”
Browne emphasized to the defendant that what he did was unnecessary.
Prosecutor, Station Sergeant Renrick Cato highlighted the violence and death that took place over the weekend with three victims of gun violence. He said that St Vincent is still “the home of [the] blessed”, but persons behaving in the way the defendant behaved are “ruining our reputation”, and damaging the country.
Cato reiterated that the 69-year-old and the young defendant had no altercations, and yet he “went to this man’s home in his own comfort, and start firing stones.”
He also said, “Your honour it is clear based on the police and/or from the defendant’s mouth that there’s something going on between the villages Greiggs and Lowmans. It is here the court has to step in and let these persons, whether from Greiggs or from Lowmans know that the court will not tolerate this kind of behaviour.”
The prosecutor said that the court has seen the medical report and the serious nature of the injuries; and has seen the photographs of the damage in the home.
While the defendant’s age, clean record and early guilty plea worked in his favour, Cato argued that the 23-year-old had shown no remorse.
“I’m here sitting and listening to the court trying to change his mindset, his way of thinking,” the Station Sergeant said, but that it seems his mind is trained on one thing.
“Vigilante behaviour is unacceptable in the community,” he said.
Towards his conclusion, the prosecutor noted that he could see no other sentence but a prison sentence in this case.
“When you can take a cutlass and look at a 69-year-old man, 69 years! and a 23-year-old young boy and chop him in his head – in his head out of all places your honour, in his head, you must be sent to a place where you need time to reflect on your actions, at your age, and what you want to look like and that place I submit, is Her Majesty’s Prison.”
The magistrate stood down the matter to consider the sentencing guidelines of the higher court.
She followed these to establish a starting point of 60% of seven years, or 4 years and two months. This went up by four months to reflect that the aggravating factors of the offence outweighed the mitigating.
She determined that Jacobs’ young age and clean record were balanced out by his lack of remorse and seeming intent to justify his actions.
The magistrate then reduced the sentence by one third or one year and five months for the guilty plea, to arrive at a sentence of three years, one month. This was rounded off to three years incarceration.
For damage to property, Jacobs was sentenced to nine months. Both terms will be served concurrently.
“Actions have consequences, young people must not be so hotheaded. You have to think more before you act and if all the young persons who feuded in Greiggs and Lowmans decide to take a pause and realize “actions have consequences, lives have value”, we will not be here today,” Browne told him, adding that others without a clean record may not have been so fortunate to receive a sentence on the lower end.