Youngster convicted of attempted manslaughter in after-school fight

PHILIPSBURG--The Joint Court of Justice on Thursday sentenced an eighteen-year-old to eighteen months of youth detention, twelve of which were suspended, on two years’ probation, for attempted manslaughter.
 
The Court found it legally and convincingly proven that Antonio R.M. Gumbs had wielded a machete at his victim during an after-school fight on L.B. Scott Road near Milton Peters College on September 6, 2016.
 
The Court of First Instance had sentenced the young defendant, who was 16 years old when the crime was committed, to nine months’ youth detention, three of which were suspended, on two years’ probation, with Youth Parole Board and Court of Guardianship supervision.
 
The lesser Court acquitted the defendant of attempted manslaughter and severe mistreatment, but found the attempt to inflict severe mistreatment and violation of the Weapon Ordinance proven.
 
The Prosecutor’s Office appealed the verdict and called on the Joint Court to sentence the defendant to 18 months, 12 of which were to be suspended, on two years’ probation, with Youth Parole Board guidance.
 
The Appeals Court found it proven that Gumbs had swung a machete at the victim during the fight.
 
“During the fight I saw ‘Liggy’ [the defendant – Ed.] with a machete in his hand. While I was fighting with A. I saw a rock fell in front of me and felt a shock to my head. L. told me that Liggy chopped me with a machete. I placed my hand on my head and felt blood. I was bleeding heavily. I felt a lot of pain,” the victim told the Police one day after the incident.
 
Several witnesses saw the defendant with the machete in his hand. The medical record mentioned a deep wound to the victim’s skin and severe loss of blood.
 
In her client’s defence, attorney Sjamira Roseburg stated that he had not had the intention to kill. However, the Appeals Court said the defendant had swung the machete in the direction of the victim’s neck and had hit him on the head, causing a 10-centimeter cut.
 
In doing so, the defendant had taken “the considerable risk” of inflicting a fatal stab wound. “The fact that the victim was not fatally wounded does not change this,” the Court stated in the verdict.
 
In sentencing, the Court also considered that the incident had taken place on the public road. It was also taken into consideration that the suspect was a first-offender and had been released from pre-trial detention for quite some time.
 
Also, St. Maarten currently does not have a youth detention facility, as Miss Lalie Youth Care and Rehabilitation Centre in Cay Bay was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in September 2017 and is still not operational.
 
These conditions led the Joint Court to impose part of the youth detention conditionally.
 
The Daily Herald

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