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February 11, 2014
Ottley Hall youth guilty of assaulting pregnant teen

Bennisha Baptiste, the teenager who was shot in her back last month while eight months pregnant, said her ex-boyfriend Lara Carter took his belt and beat her about her body after she told him she was keeping the child that he did not father.{{more}}

Yesterday, at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, Carter, 19, of Ottley Hall, was found guilty of assaulting Baptiste, 18, and was sentenced to nine months imprisonment by magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias.

He was also charged with damage to property of a cellular phone and theft of another, both belonging to Baptiste.

Carter was sentenced to three months and one month respectively on the two charges.

The sentences will run concurrently.

According to the facts in the case, Baptiste told the court that she went to the clinic on December 16, for a scheduled pregnancy appointment.

While at the clinic, Baptiste stated that Carter telephoned her around 2 p.m., asking if she was coming to see him.

“He ask me if I coming by him and I tell him ah don’t know, ah might come later,” she said.

According to Baptiste, later that day, at about 6 p.m., Carter telephoned her once again and asked her the same question.

She subsequently went to where Carter was and while there, he asked her what she was going to do with the baby.

When Baptiste told him that she was going to keep the child, Carter took off his belt and began beating her.

“He took out he belt and start to hit me with it…,” Baptiste recounted.

She further stated that Carter took one of her two cellular phones and smashed it on the ground and placed the other one in his pocket.

“When ah dey screaming, some neighbours come and tell him to leave me alone because ah got big belly.”

Baptiste told the court that she was in a relationship with Carter for three years, and it ended in June 2013, after she told him that the baby she was having did not belong to him.

Despite this, Baptiste said the two remained friends.

She also said that Carter was in the habit of beating her and would often threaten her when she made reports to the police.

Baptiste suffered bruises and swelling to her face as a result of the beating.

Carter seemed to find Baptiste’s story funny, as he kept stroking his chin and grinned broadly.

In the testimony of the investigating officer, Police Constable 571 Gideon Nathan, he said while at the Criminal Investigations Department, Carter laughed and stated: “That ah my gyal! Me ah go plead not guilty. Magistrate cah hold me fo that. I go give she (Baptiste) two small talk and the case drop.”

In his testimony, Carter, who was not represented by counsel, admitted to striking Baptiste with the belt about five times, because she was lying to him.

“I admit I hit she and I sorry fo that. She was lying to me and she never told me about that baby scene,” Carter told the court.

He added that Baptiste used to “trick” him and noted that he got “caught up” with her.

“I done promise myself I wouldn’t come back here again. This girl caught me up, your honour,” Carter said.

At the close of the prosecution’s case, which was led by Assistant Superintendent Glenford Gregg, Browne-Matthias told Carter he never challenged the evidence of Baptiste about the phones and that he admitted to striking her with the belt.

“A lot of aggravating factors are in this case. The girl was eight months pregnant. I don’t know what insanity came over you,” Browne-Matthias said.

She beseeched Carter to read while in prison and educate himself.

Carter responded, “Jail can’t do nothing for me. I rather dead than stay in prison.”

Carter still has pending matters before the court in relation to Baptiste.

On January 20, Carter was charged for the attempted murder of Baptiste on January 11, at Ottley Hall.

It is alleged that Baptiste was shot while making her way home, shortly after 10 p.m.

Luckily, doctors at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital were able to save the lives of Baptiste and her baby.

That matter is scheduled for hearing on May 4 at the Serious Offences Court.