Shooter of Pascal Morelle handed five years in prison

MARIGOT--The tribunal in Marigot has sentenced one of two brothers to five years in prison for the shooting of Pascal Morelle during a well-publicised incident in Grand Case in 2011.
Morelle and his wife visited the then Le Shore nightclub in Grand Case at around midnight on June 26, 2011, and were subjected to insults and had stones thrown at them by a group of youths when they entered the establishment.
Morelle remonstrated with the youths but was restrained by a couple of off-duty Gendarmes in the club.
The couple left the club at 3:00am and while getting into their car, Pascal Morelle was shot by a youth who had been waiting for the couple to leave. Of three bullets fired, one struck him in the buttocks and left leg and the second entered his thorax.
He spent a week in a Martinique hospital in critical condition and never returned to St. Martin from that day on. Today Morelle is confined to a wheelchair after undergoing several operations due to the injuries he received.
The elder brother at the time, 23-year-old S.L. who shot Morelle, was accused of premeditated aggravated violence with a weapon, intending to cause grievous bodily harm by virtue of also concealing his face with a mask.
Witness testimony from the first altercation indicated S.L. was particularly abusive towards Morelle and reportedly dragged his finger across his throat to signal his life was about to end.
The younger brother, 18-year-old D.L. at that time acted as the accomplice providing the bullets.
The weapon was never retrieved, however, DNA found on the bullet casings implicated S.L. in the crime.
The court found insufficient evidence to convict D.L. who also had an alibi proving he was not present at the scene of the shooting. Vice-Prosecutor Michaël Ohayon left it to the “wisdom” of the judge to find a suitable punishment. In the end D.L. was acquitted.
In his summing up, Ohayon said Morelle himself was no saint and had a least eleven convictions for various misdemeanours and there was a criminal file on him in the court system.
“In this case that does not change anything because nothing can justify an individual firing three bullets at another person,” reasoned Ohayon. “Today it is Pascal Morelle who is the victim.”
Morelle was well known to law enforcement and had a reputation in St. Martin for dispensing his own brand of vigilante justice against delinquent youths and at least on one occasion made a citizen’s arrest, violently tying up a minor for burglarising his home before handing him in. Other incidents included attacking a post office employee and railing against hospital staff for inadequate medical services.
Morelle was not in court for the verdict but was represented by his lawyer. The victim’s civil suit will be examined by the court in June 2016.
The Daily Herald

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