Repeat offender sentenced to seven years jail time for attempted robbery
Raphael “butter bread’’ John, hides his face from reporters while leaving the High Court
From the Courts, News
May 26, 2023

Repeat offender sentenced to seven years jail time for attempted robbery

A man who has 14 previous convictions, including homicide has once again found himself behind bars after being sentenced to seven years on his latest conviction.

When 33 year old Raphael “butter bread’’ John, of no fixed address appeared at the High Court #1 for his sentencing on May 17, he had nothing to say before Justice Brian Cottle handed down a sentence of seven years behind bars.

However, after being remanded for one year, two months and one week John will spend five years, nine months and 23 days behind bars for the June, 14, 2020 attempted robbery on Veunley Jones of Glen.

According to the facts presented by the judge, around 9:00 p.m on June 14, 2020, Venuely Jones was walking towards his home in Glen. As he approached the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College, he was approached by the prisoner who was armed with a knife.

Pointing the weapon at the victim, John demanded that Jones hand over all that he had. The victim told him that he only had a bag of bread.

John told him that he did not want the bread and demanded that Jones emptied his pockets.

Jones did so, and began backing away from the prisoner. He managed to get near to his neighbour’s home and called out to his neighbour for help.

That neighbour came out of her home and she saw as the prisoner pointed the knife at Jones. From the safety of her porch, she spoke to the prisoner and was able to convince him to leave Jones alone.

The matter was reported to the Calliaqua Police Station and the victim was taken back to the area of the assault. The prisoner was found hiding in a gutter and the knife was found nearby.

Jones identified him to the police and the prisoner told him in the presence of the police “If I wanted to rob you, I wudda cut out your belly.”

Justice Cottle told the court that a social inquiry report revealed that John had a difficult upbringing and once lived in an abandoned structure without electricity and water. He also had no specific home and at the time of the offence was living on the streets.

The judge said, the prisoner is an occasional self employed farmer and labourer who has a history of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine use which has led to many interactions with the police.

John had 14 previous convictions ranging from offences of dishonesty, possession of offensive weapon and homicide.

When asked about the offence, John told the social worker that he had been attacked previously and carried the knife for self-defence.

Cottle informed the court that the maximum penalty for robbery and attempted robbery are life in prison.

When the judge examined the consequences of the offence, he found that they fell into the lesser category noting that, fortunately, the complainant did not suffer any physical harm. He also said there was no suggestion that the victim was seriously psychologically impacted and he did not suffer any financial loss.

As for the seriousness, the judge found the offence to fall into a high category. This is because a weapon was produced and used to threaten Jones even though no actual physical harm was caused.

This brought the judge to a starting point in sentencing of six years in prison.

Aggravating of the offence, the judge highlighted the prevalence of offences of robbery.

He noted that statistics from the criminal records office revealed that robbery was the most prevalent offence of the reporting year, 2022.

Cottle further said that though knife robberies were fewer than for firearm robberies, the number had doubled based on the 2021 figures.

There were no mitigating factors of the offence.

Aggravating of the offender is that he has 14 previous convictions; mitigating was that he had an unfortunate upbringing and his lack of education has limited his prospects of life, and his substance abuse exacerbates it.

The aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors and one year was added bringing the sentence to seven years.

The prisoner who has more than a dozen run-ins with the law, previously spent time behind bars for manslaughter, having pled guilty in connection with the January 22, 2009 shooting death of Ashley ‘Seymour’ Warren of Long Wall.