Law and order and court
Law and order and court

Bertrand Benjamin of Woodford Hill, a 53-year old proprietor of an auto business in that north-eastern community has to come back to the Roseau High Court before Justice Wynante Adrien-Roberts on Friday January 29, 2021 to face sentencing for the offence of unlawful wounding.

A jury of four men and five women found Benjamin guilty of unlawfully and maliciously wounding Michael Telemacque of the same community at the end of a five-day trial on Tuesday December 15, 2020.

State Attorney Daina Matthew in the company of Director of Public Prosecutions, Evelina Baptiste had three witnesses to call. One was absent thus two other witnesses had to appear to get in the report of the doctor who examined and treated Telemacque at the Reginald Armour Hospital in Portsmouth. Counsel Dawn Yearwood-Stewart represented Benjamin.

The virtual complainant told the court on Monday December 7, when the case started, that he left his home at Woodford Hill by public bus for the Moroccan Hotel building site at Portsmouth on Wednesday May 4, 2016 where he was employed as a security officer for more than four years.

Telemacque said he got to Portsmouth after 8:00am. While walking on Harbour Lane, Portsmouth to Lagoon where the hotel was under construction, Telemacque saw Benjamin pass him sitting in the back of a pick-up driven by Richardson Viville who was also from Woodford Hill and also worked on the Moroccan project. Benjamin and Viville both did maintenance work.

He stopped at a supermarket in Lagoon where he bought his breakfast of bread and sausage. He got to work near 9:00am.

Telemacque said: "I saw Bertrand Benjamin come out with a crowbar in his hand, and step right up to me and said he ready for me now. I just walked past him on his left side, and I said before any problem let me call the police. I went straight to the security room. The accused followed me and went to the kitchen at the back."

Telemacque chose to eat his breakfast outside the kitchen to know when the police came because he had to open the gate to visitors to enter. He had a kitchen knife in his hand to cut his sausage and bread, he said.

"About 15 minutes later I just saw Bertrand Benjamin push back the gate. The accused walked straight up to me with the crowbar in his hand. He said: 'Yes Mr Michael! Today! Today! I ready for you! That's the last warning I giving you for calling my name. I smiled and turn to walk away from him. I smiled because I made a call to the police and I know I had the police at my back. The crowbar was in his right hand. The crowbar was damaged. It could not perform anymore because one of the teeth was broken. It was always in a corner in the kitchen...

"He told me not to smile at him. He held the crowbar in both hands and swung at my head. I had to put up my hand to protect my hand and face and I got hit on the back of the upper arm. He hit me another one on my shoulder... he hit me another one in my back. I go down. He hit me two more in my back and I try to run out of the gate. I ran to the gate, he hit me five times... I fell on the road outside. He followed me outside. I started calling for help on the ground."

Richardson drove away with Bertrand to the Portsmouth police station. Others on the scene put Telemacque on a Moroccan vehicle and drove him to the Portsmouth Hospital. Cuban doctor Rainier Marshall Hercheavrie treated him. An ambulance came and took him to the Princess Margaret Hospital where he spent eight days. His hand was operated upon and a piece of steel inserted.

He added: "The things I used to do I can't do anymore."

The state called Immigration Officer Etienne Reid who said he was on duty when Dr. Hercheavrie left Dominica for Cuba on November 6, 2017 and had not returned to the country.

Police Constable Morrison Thomas conducted the investigation. He first went to the Portsmouth Hospital to see the patient before going to the Moroccan Hotel at the Cabrits in the conduct of his investigations.

Bertrand Benjamin told the officer that Telemacque called him "bugger man... so I hit him with a crowbar." In another interview one day later Benjamin said he told Telemacque that sort of thing he saying about him must stop. Telemacque made a lunge at him with a knife.

"I shift and hit him with the crowbar... on his left arm. I can't say what happened to the crowbar," he said.

Following an electronic interview on Friday May 6, Officer Thomas charged Benjamin with unlawfully and maliciously causing grievous bodily harm to Michael Telemacque with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and a second charge of unlawful wounding.

In his defence from the witness stand, Benjamin stated that he was on his way to work in the van of Richardson Viville that May 4, 2016 morning when they passed Telemacque in Portsmouth and he put up a finger.

"At work there was a fence which was broken down. We started digging the holes with a pickaxe. We had to use a crowbar to square up the holes nicely," he said.

He left Viville to get a crowbar in the storeroom. He saw Mikey sitting on a chair on his way back with the crowbar. Mikey called him something he did not like. He told Telemacque to stop because they were two big men...

"He got mad and took a knife and tried to chook (stab) me. I made a motion... you see what you make me do, and you see what happen," he said.

The jury on Wednesday December 15 found Benjamin guilty on the second lesser charge. Trial judge Justice Adrien-Roberts ordered a social inquiry report and set the sentencing date for January 29, 2021.