Resident Judge Wynante Adrien-Roberts
Resident Judge Wynante Adrien-Roberts

The September 2020 criminal session of the Roseau High Court sitting before Justice Wynante Adrien-Roberts ended in a rush with a few men facing prison sentences for varying offences reprieved because of time served on remand.

Jonathan Walsh of Roseau pleaded guilty to unlawfully and maliciously wounding Shane Dorival on Great George Street, Roseau on Saturday February 7, 2015 when he appeared before the trial judge at his arraignment on Tuesday September 22, 2020. The offence carries a maximum prison term of two years.

State Attorney Daina Matthew withdrew the more serious first charge of causing unlawful and malicious grievous bodily harm to Shane Dorival with intent.

Counsel Darius Jones consented to the Legal Aid Clinic, now headed by Counsel Peter Alleyne, to give advice amicus to the guilty man.

In mitigation, Jones asked the judge to consider time sent on remand which exceeded the two-year maximum sentence. He agreed that the prisoner had used a weapon. But he had pleaded guilty at an early stage of the proceedings and shown remorse.

Matthew in turn explained that the virtual complainant could not use his left finger and was unable to flex it, and would welcome compensation. It was a serious injury. The prisoner was quite youthful at the time being 24 years old. He also had previous convictions.

Justice Adrien-Roberts noted the principles of sentencing such as deterrence and preventative to the accused and others, retribution and rehabilitation. She also looked at the aggravating and mitigating factors. She agreed that it was a serious injury and accordingly started with a prison term of 18 months, and after adding time for the aggravating factors like permanent disability of the victim, and making reduction in time for mitigating factors, the judge arrived at 24 months and one day, which meant the accused had spent more than the maximum term in prison.

The judge ordered compensation in the sum of $11,435 – $1,435 for special damages and $10,000 for general damages. He had 22 months to pay the amount starting with $500 at the end of January 2021 and at the end of every month thereafter. In default the Walsh, who says he is fisherman, would be imprisoned for three months, and on his release the whole sum becomes due and payable.

Taking conveyance

Denny Shillingford, a 39-year-old man did not have to pay compensation because no serious harm was done when he took the black Escudo jeep of a man at Mahaut on Monday January 4, 2016 without the permission of the owner. Shillingford pleaded guilty at his arraignment on Tuesday September 22. Counsel Joel Paris for the Legal Aid Clinic mitigated on behalf of Shillingford on Thursday December 10 with Peter Alleyne representing the prisoner on the day Justice Adrien-Roberts imposed her sentence.

Paris told the court that Shillingford had all his siblings living out of Dominica and had lived with his mother and grandmother. He had access to family property at Salisbury. He left school when he was 15. He had skills in construction and fishing. He was remorseful and sorry for what had happened, and if he had the ability would pay compensation.

Paris said that bearing the principles of sentencing the judge had discretion in passing sentences, adding that the maximum prison term was five years for that offence.

Director of Public Prosecutions Evelina Baptiste said the case was not appropriate for compensation because there was no serious harm done.

The judge used three years as the starting point for her sentencing. She went on to look at the mitigating and aggravating factors adding and subtracting months to her notional three years. In the end he had served the one year three months she arrived at. When one-third was deducted the nine months spent on remand exceeding the eight months. The Judge told him he was free to go but heard that he was incarcerated for something else.

Shillingford then asked for bail. The judge advised him that the matter was in the Magistrate's Court, and that's where he should make his application for bail.