Honourable Justice Colin Williams
Honourable Justice Colin Williams

A St. Joseph resident who left a neighbour with one foot after a cutlass attack was given a three-year suspended sentence by trial judge Colin Williams at the Roseau High Court on Tuesday, March 12, 2024.

A jury of six women and three men on Friday, March 1, 2024, found 56-year-old Ronnie Leslie guilty of unlawfully and maliciously wounding Hendricks Felix Morancie with intent to do grievous bodily harm at St Joseph on Sunday, November 12, 2017.

Director of Public Prosecutions Sherma Dalrymple prosecuted the case for the State. The 63-year-old virtual complainant, Hendricks Felix Morancie, told the court that he was going to the beach on the morning of November 12, 2017, when he heard the voice of Ronnie Leslie. Having known him for over 35 years, they lived about 50-75 feet away.

Morancie bathed in the sea and was returning home at about 6:30 am when he saw Ronnie Leslie running from his place with a cutlass. They exchanged words. Morancie picked up two bottles next to a public convenience and threw them at Leslie, striking him on the waist before running back to the beach. While jumping from the road to the beach, he fell, and that is where Leslie cut his right foot around the ankle. Morancie wrestled with Leslie. Leslie bit him on the back and made his escape.

Neighbours came from their homes and helped Felix Morancie to the St Joseph Health Centre before he was transferred to the Dominica China Friedship Hospital, where the leg was amputated above the ankle.

The judge set sentencing for Wednesday, March 6, but after hearing submissions in mitigation from defence counsel Wayne Norde on behalf of the convicted man, he postponed the matter to March 12.

Norde told the court that Leslie was a first-time offender with no previous convictions. He had been employed for the past eight years and was remorseful. Norde asked Justice Williams to "temper justice with mercy and be innovative in sentencing. He further asked the court not to pose a custodial sentence in this circumstance. It was for the judge to look at common law sentencing. The accused was willing to compensate. Norde asked for a suspended sentence and an order for the accused to pay compensation.

Norde called three character witnesses – Leslie's girlfriend, a police officer's sister and a male cousin – on behalf of the convicted Ronnie Leslie.

Judge Williams indicated there and then that he would not be touching the matter of compensation.

On Tuesday, March 12, sentencing day, Justice Williams started at 60% of the maximum ten years for the offence. The judge looked at aggravating and mitigating factors in the offence and the same two factors as they concerned the offender.

Looking at the purposes of sentencing retribution, prevention, deterrence, and rehabilitation, the judge noted it was a one-off incident seven years ago. But there was the need to send a message that these offences would not be tolerated. He did not see the matter as one where rehabilitation was needed.

Justice Williams did not see Ronnie Leslie as having the means to meet any compensation. Given the tardy process in this matter—seven years before getting to court—the sentence was suspended for three years with an eight-point supervisory order to be managed by a probation officer.