Two defendants in two separate matters were put on probation last week, with one of their conditions being the equivalent of house arrest.
Mr. Justice Alex Henderson imposed the sentences in Grand Court last Friday. One defendant was a man in his 40s; the other was a teenager when he committed his offence.
Each defendant is allowed to leave his residence for work, church and any medical appointment.
The older man was convicted after trial of assault causing actual bodily harm to his wife. They were separated at the time and have since divorced. He had also been accused of attempted rape and indecent assault, but was found not guilty of those charges.
In mitigation, Defence Attorney James Austin-Smith noted that the incident occurred in the context of a relationship that had broken down irreversibly. The wife had been having an affair. There had been previous altercations from which the husband still bore the scars.
The incident before the court had occurred where the husband was living. The wife went there ostensibly to collect belongings.
The defendant was hard working, had glowing references and could be treated as a man of good character, the attorney said.
In passing sentence, the judge commented that incidents of domestic violence are relatively high in this country. The approach of the courts has been clearly enunciated for some time – generally, there will be a sentence of imprisonment, which is meant to punish the offender and deter others.
But there is no rule. Each case is assessed on its own merits. In this case, the judge accepted that there would be no repetition. He was satisfied that the public did not require a sentence of incarceration for its own protection.
‘But there must be significant punishment for this offence,’ he emphasised.
The probation order he imposed is for 18 months. During that time the defendant is to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, report as required to the probation officer, attend a domestic violence intervention programme and others as may be recommended.
Another term of probation is that he remain in his place of residence between 7.30am and 5.30 pm, with the exception of four hours on Sunday for attending church and three hours once per month for medical and dental care.
‘In other words, I’m imposing house arrest for 18 months,’ the judge said.
The judge indicated for the record that, if he were not entitled to impose this sentence he would have imposed six months imprisonment.
The second defendant had pleaded guilty to a burglary of a dwelling house.
The occupant returned home and found his window screen interfered with. He then saw the defendant and held onto him until police arrived.
Initially the young man said he had been chased and had broken into the apartment to get away. But the complainant reported that drawers in the house were pulled open and $34 was missing. The defendant was found to have $34 in his pocket.
Mr. Austin-Smith pointed to the defendant’s cooperation. When stopped by the home owner he stayed and gave his real name. He had spent about nine months in custody.
The young man had a troubled upbringing, with a long and depressing record of juvenile offences. But he was now staying out of trouble. He had found a new place to live and had a job, where he was working seven days a week.
The judge in this case imposed 18 months probation with terms that included keeping the peace, reporting to the probation officer and submitting to random drug testing.
This defendant is to remain within his premises except for the hours of 6.30am to 6pm to allow him to work. Exceptions are for church, medical/ dental appointments or meetings with a probation officer.
The defendant is not to be found with any weapon, including a knife with a blade longer than two inches. He is not to have any drug without a prescription.
The judge said he was making this sentence to help the young man establish his new life. After 12 months, he indicated, the defendant could apply to have the house arrest lifted.