13 years for common-law husband’s death
Front Page
July 24, 2009
13 years for common-law husband’s death

Before her sentence could even be read, Flavia Richardson’s tears were already flowing as she sat in the defendant’s box awaiting sentencing for causing the death of her common-law husband.{{more}}

On Wednesday July 22, at the High Court, Justice Gertel Thom handed down a 13-year custodial sentence to Richardson, who was found guilty of manslaughter on February 16, 2009. The 25-year-old was charged with killing Winston Williams on March 19, 2007, at the couple’s home at Ratho Mill, following an altercation.

As she stood to hear her sentence, Richardson sobbed uncontrollably and continued to do so as she was led away by police officers. On that tragic day, Richardson and the deceased got into argument.

Richardson said the argument stemmed from Williams’ unwillingness to hold their then 15-month-old baby while she did household chores. Williams was about to leave the house when Richardson ran in front of the main door and blocked his path. Williams then shoved her aside, and a tussle ensued. During the struggle, Richardson picked up a knife and stabbed Williams on the left side of his chest.

A Social Inquiry report prepared and read by Director of the Family Affairs Division Cammie Matthews indicated that Richardson expressed regret about the incident and wished she could have handled the situation differently.

“I did not intend for him to die…what grieves me the most is not that I am in jail, but it is how I can’t change what happened. If I go back in time, I would try my best to work out things better,” Richardson said.

Further in the interview, which took place on February 24, 2009, at Fort Charlotte, Richardson stated that their eight-year relationship deteriorated after the first three to four years. She said it came to a point where she could not say anything, and even got slapped by the victim.

Persons interviewed in the communities where Richardson lived for periods of time describe her as a friendly, outgoing community person who was respectful. Even when Richardson was on bail for the offence, she attended counseling sessions. In Matthew’s conclusion, he noted that she was totally remorseful for her actions and that she was a good prospect for rehabilitation and reform.

Mitigating on his client’s behalf, lawyer Ronald Marks implored the court to take into account Richardson’s conduct while on bail. “Your Ladyship, she sought counseling during this time and even got baptized…so I ask you to pay attention to his,” Marks pleaded. He added that the whole incident was not an unprovoked brutal attack and there was evidence before the court of abuse. Marks further stated that his client showed great remorse for her actions and suggested her case is one that can be set at the low end of the benchmark in sentencing.

Justice Thom, in delivering her written judgment, took into account Richardson’s age, the fact that she had no previous convictions and that the killing was not premeditated. However, Thom did not turn a blind eye to the aggravating factor that it was Richardson who blocked Williams’ path when he tried to leave the house. “This is a very serious offence and the entire incident was instigated by her…even though she is only 25, this is not significant,” Thom said.

The judge said she saw it fit to depart from the benchmark of 15 years imprisonment and was of the view that Richardson needed further counseling. “In view of the mitigating factors, I will reduce the sentence, not by one third, but by two years,” Thom added.

Richardson’s sentence is effective from her time of arrest.