Young woman jailed for six years for strangling elderly man
Sheba Lenisha Charles
Front Page
August 8, 2023

Young woman jailed for six years for strangling elderly man

A young woman who killed an elderly man by strangulation after he sexually assaulted her has been sentenced to six years and eight months in prison.

27-year-old Sheba Lenisha Charles, of Vermont/ Union Island was sentenced at the High Court #2 on August 4, for the offence of manslaughter.

However, Charles, a domestic worker, will only spend a further three years, 11 months and 23 days behind bars after time spent on remand was deducted from her sentence.

She was initially charged with the November 26, 2020 murder of 83-year-old Ulric Hutchinson of Union Island. However, during her trial she made a request for the charge to be re-read to her and she pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

According Justice Rickie Burnett’s summary of the facts, at the time of the offence, Charles was 25 years old and had known the deceased for several years. She had been staying at his home for a few days, during which time she agreed to assist with chores.

Kenvil Adams, the son of the deceased, had frowned upon the arrangement and expressed this to his father, as he felt Charles was not of good character and was a drug addict.

Charles later stole from Hutchinson and was asked to leave his home. However, after asking to be allowed to stay, she was given until November 27, 2020 to leave the premises.

On November 26, Adams said he received news that Charles had killed his father.

When he visited his father’s house, he found the elderly man on his knees with his upper body slumped over on a couch. Adams shook his father’s body and checked for vitality but there was none and the police were called.

One of Hutchinson’s neighbours testified to hearing Charles say that she was going to the police station and that she needed to visit a doctor.

At the police station, Charles reported that Hutchinson, whom she referred to as “Uncle” had tried to sexually assault her and they got into a fight.

She said when she was about to leave the house, she heard him saying he couldn’t breathe.

Charles also received Injuries to her upper lip and right ear.

When the police arrived at the home of the deceased, they found Hutchinson lying motionless on the floor with what appeared to be blood on his face and right palm.

Charles told police that while she was in the shower, the deceased came into the bathroom and began fondling her breast and vagina telling her that “he got the pills”.

She told him that she had to go to court and when she returned, she would have sex with him.

However, Hutchinson continued his advances and held on to her shoulder when she went into the kitchen. She turned around, squeezed his neck for a short while, then she pushed him by his neck.

She said Hutchinson then took up a small aluminium pot and struck her in her head, across her ear and on her lips causing her blood to drip on a sofa.

The deceased apologized but continued to fondle her.

She said she turned around, held him by the neck and pushed him, after which, he fell on his knees. He complained that he could not breathe and she later touched him, but he was unresponsive.

She told students whom she saw to call the police, then she later went to the police station.

An autopsy conducted by Dr Ronald Child later revealed that the deceased died as a result of manual strangulation.

A social inquiry report revealed that Charles was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been living a nomadic lifestyle. She was deemed to be a substance abuser.

She expressed her regret at what had transpired and described the deceased as cool, easy going and helpful.

In sentencing Charles, Justice Burnett began at a starting point of 12 years.

When he looked at the aggravating factors of the offence, he found the victim to be vulnerable given his age. The judge however bore in mind, as urged by the defence, that the deceased was the aggressor and the woman was in her 20s.

Mitigating of the offence, was the absence of pre-meditation and that Charles was injured by the deceased.

There were no aggravating factors of the offender, and mitigating of her was that she is relatively young, she cooperated with the police, her level of remorse and the impact her lifestyle could have had on her.

The mitigating factors outweighed the aggravating and two years were deducted from the sentence.

She was offered a one-third discount from her sentence for her guilty plea which brought it down to six years and eight months.

Charles had already spent three years 11 months and 23 days on remand and this was also deducted.

She was represented by defence counsel Jomo Thomas while counsel Rose Ann Richardson and Maria Jackson- Richards appeared for the Crown.