CONVICTED MICHAEL ANTOINE (left) being escorted by police officers from the High Court
News
March 18, 2022
Judge throws the book at rapist

IN 2016 A WOMAN who was on her way to work in the early hours of the morning of Boxing day was raped, and chopped about the body with a cutlass leaving her with multiple lacerations and her hand partially disabled.

Yesterday, March 17, the man responsible, Glen/Diamond resident, Michael Antoine was sentenced by the High Court that, going forward, he must serve 20 years and eight months in prison for rape, and 11 years and eight months in prison for wounding, to run concurrently.

Antoine had been convicted by a jury on both counts on December 1, 2021, and had already been in prison awaiting sentencing.

Justice, Angelica Teelucksingh-Ramoutar revised all of the evidence during the sentencing process yesterday.

It was revealed that, according to the victim, she knew Antoine before the incident because he used to frequent the yard where she was living, and was always in the company of two people. She knew him only by face.

On Boxing Day 2016, the victim, who was a security worker was heading to work at 5:15a.m. On her way there, walking with the guidance of street lights, she saw Antoine in the company of the duo she always used to see him with in her yard. She passed the group who was walking in the direction of the beach gap, and was very close to them so that she could see them clearly. About five minutes later she heard someone running behind her.

“On looking back she saw it was the prisoner. She stopped and began fiddling with her shoes to see if he was actually following her,” Teelucksingh- Ramoutar noted. Antoine also stopped behind her, and when she tried to go into a nearby yard he stopped her by grabbing her clothes, pulling a cutlass from his pants waist and beating her about the body with the weapon.

She fell to the ground and Antoine raped her on the side of the main road.

The victim tried to run into the road afterwards to stop a vehicle but this was unsuccessful, she also tried to run into a yard but Antoine pulled her back.

He dragged the cutlass across her face and cut her ear. He tried to chop her neck and she blocked it with her hand.

Someone is said to have called out to Antoine. He took her to lie down in the road again, and she saw him take her bag with her cellphone and walk back in the direction from which he came.

The police took the victim to the hospital.

Dr Charles Woods was one of the attending physicians and he testified that among her injuries there included: a laceration of 4cm partially severing the right ear in that the ear was almost amputated, a 9cm laceration to the neck cutting into the muscle, a 3cm laceration to the back, superficial lacerations to the cheek, chin, and forehead. A musculoskeletal examination of the left hand revealed that there was a 9cm laceration to the left mid palm, severing the muscle and tendons. In follow up visits that occurred after she was discharged, the victim continued to have decreased range of motion of the hand and did not have full extension.

On January 28, 2017, the victim took a photo of Antoine using her cellphone in Kingstown and sent the photo to Investigator, Corporal 377 Browne and this was extracted by the Information Technology Department of the police force.

The now deceased then-Corporal Philbert Chambers was also part of this investigation and he spoke to Antoine in June 2017. “Me been see me picture on social media. Me been for come to see the police fuh clear me name,” Antoine had told Chambers.

Antoine was taken to the police station.

On June 17, 2017, there was an identification parade. Antoine chose to take up the first position of eight but this was halted as the victim broke down and left the room to regain her composure. When it resumed Antoine was fifth in line and was positively identified by the victim.

In an electronic interview Antoine told the police that he was not in the area but was at home with his girlfriend for the entire Christmas season. He said he did not know the victim.

Using the sentencing guidelines, the judge established the starting point by considering the seriousness and consequences of the offence by reference to harm caused.

“I consider that the facts of this case places this case in category one exceptional, in that there is extreme psychological harm based on the victim impact statement. It is evident that the victim is severely traumatised by the attack and experiences suicidal thoughts,” the Judge said.

In her statement the victim said “no one understands what I am going through as many days I wanted to kill myself when I look at what I have been reduced to.”

These thoughts first surfaced after she was ridiculed by others after the attack.

“This is when I started getting suicidal thoughts of poisoning myself but when I remember my children I knew I had something to live for,” the victim wrote.

A weapon was also used. The seriousness was considered level B.

Teelucksingh-Ramoutar started at 65% of the maximum which is life imprisonment or 30 years. Therefore the court began at 19 years, six months.

The offence was aggravated by the fact that it is prevalent so the sentence was increased by two years.

In the case of Antoine himself, “The prisoner does not express any remorse and this is revealed in the contents of the social inquiry report where the prisoner maintains his innocence to the caseworker. This court then makes an upward adjustment of 2 years.”

However, the court is required to consider the prisoner’s previous good character and the generally good opinion of the community where lives, as expressed in the social inquiry report.

The sentence was then moved down by two years to 21 years and six months.

Based on the time that Antoine has already spent in prison – five months, 20 days pre-trial; and three months, 17 days post trial – this was deducted.

It was also ordered that Antoine enrols in any psychotherapy program offered in prison, as recommended.

For wounding the maximum penalty is 14 years in prison.

The judge placed the offence, using the sentencing guidelines, into the highest category for consequences. She deemed that there was severe physical harm as evidenced by Dr Woods.

Teelucksingh-Ramoutar noted that the victim herself described “When I got chopped on my left hand my fingers appeared to be hanging off and I had to undergo surgery so I have partial use of that said hand.”

The victim also spoke of degradation and humiliation.

“I used to walk through the streets feeling good about myself but now when people see me they harass me and they call me ‘finni’ hands. Sometimes people would say the defendant should have killed me and even up to this day I am still being frowned upon and ridiculed,” the young woman explained.

This made her feel ashamed.

The justice also placed in the highest, level A seriousness for listed reasons.

The starting point was 75% of the maximum or 10 years and six months.

The aggravating and mitigating factors brought this to 12 years and six months incarceration, less time already spent behind bars.

This will run concurrently to the first sentence.

Antoine was also ordered to enrol in an anger management programme provided by the prison.

The court thanked both sides: crown counsel, Alana Cumberbatch and defence counsel, Adrian Odle who consented to appearing amicus curiae, for their assistance.