13 years for stabbing death

A man who stabbed his partner to death in the West Bay house they shared last July was sentenced to 13 years in jail in the Grand Court Friday.

Colin Ovid Scott, 36, also known as Sheldon Scott, stabbed Maureen Grant, 34, three times after she had told him she was leaving him for another man in July 2007.

Scott, a Jamaican national, had pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder but guilty to manslaughter, a plea the Crown accepted in court Monday 7 January. The manslaughter plea was entered on the basis of provocation.

Grand Court Justice Priya Levers said the Crown had been generous in accepting the manslaughter charge. A conviction on the murder charge would have meant a life sentence for Scott.

Crown Counsel Kirsty Ann-Gunn said Ms Grant, also Jamaican, was killed on the night of 9 July. She had walked out on Scott the day before and had returned to collect her possession from the house they shared with three other people on Erenette Lane, West Bay.

She arrived just after 8pm; Scott returned shortly after. Two co-tenants were on the porch at the time. They heard raised voices coming from the bedroom and heard Ms Grant say she didn’t want to talk to Scott.

Ms Grant emerged from the home talking on the phone to the man she was apparently leaving Scott to be with. Defence Attorney Howard Hamilton QC later told the court Scott had remained in denial about Ms Grant being unfaithful, despite warnings from relatives and from Ms Grant herself.

Phone records indicated Ms Grant called the man at 9.52pm. Mr. Hamilton said Scott heard Ms Grant call the person she was speaking to ‘babes’. Scott asked who ‘babes’ was. Ms Grant had then ‘flared up’, Mr. Hamilton said, getting in Scott’s face and telling Scott she didn’t want him anymore; that whatever they had was gone and she was leaving him for another man.

She returned inside. The two co-tenants, still outside, said Scott was mumbling to himself. One of them encouraged Scott to let the matter be; ‘now I go be sorry,’ he replied.

Scott went back inside. That’s when the Crown believe Scott delivered three stab blows to Ms Grant with an eight-inch kitchen knife; one in the arm; one in the chest; and one in the back. A post-mortem revealed that that the stab wound to the chest proved fatal, penetrating her heart.

Scott re-emerged from the house, telling the co-tenants ‘She’s dead; go see’. He then took off in his vehicle, taking with him a rope that he planned on hanging himself with. Police arrived on the scene at 10.06 pm.

Scott did not go through with the suicide and, within an hour of the stabbing, turned himself into police. Police cautioned Scott and he made admissions to them.

Ms Gunn reported that a medical doctor that examined Scott prior to his interview found that he was suffering from a huge hysterical stress disorder.

Mr. Hamilton pointed out the difference between murder and manslaughter – murder requires an intention to commit murder as well as the physical act of doing so, whereas manslaughter requires only the physical element.

The partial defense of provocation, he said, ‘recognises that for the moment when blows are being inflicted there is a temporary loss of self control.’

Mr. Hamilton said Scott had been carrying the kitchen knife because he had been cooking. Scott’s actions, he said, appeared to have been spontaneous; almost involuntary.

Scott had said he felt as if he had blacked out and lost control. He almost didn’t realise what he had done until he saw the blood, Mr. Hamilton explained.

His actions were not just a loss of temper, but a loss of control, he argued.

Mr. Hamilton described what had happened as a double tragedy.

‘The mother of the accused took the deceased to heart and the mother of the deceased had taken the accused to heart,’ he said. ‘It was a family and both mothers loved their children-in-law.

‘One of the things that stands out here is the love the defendant had for the deceased.

‘Maybe he loved her too much,’ Mr. Hamilton continued. ‘He treated her like royalty; he washed and cooked and cared for her.

‘Maybe that made her tire of him and lose respect for him. But he never stopped loving her and he will have to live with the knowledge that he killed the person that he loved.

Mr. Hamilton said Scott had expressed a hope that he might be able to counsel other young men in prison so they don’t succumb to the same fate as him.

He pointed out that Scott had no previous criminal convictions, no previous record of violence and had never before raised a hand against the deceased.

But there had been indications of what Scott was capable of. Ms Gunn said that on a trip to Jamaica in 2006, Scott had told Mrs. Grant’s mother that he loved her daughter very much but would kill her and her body would come back to Jamaica in a box if she ‘dissed him’.

If he could not love her, no one else would, he had said.

There had also been a dispute in March 2007 that police had attended.

Scott was said to have told an officer at the time that he would rather Ms Grant were killed than for her to leave him.

Scott, who has been a plumber for 14 years, had impeccable reference from past employers, the court heard.

Mr. Hamilton described Scott as a gentle giant; a big man that didn’t use his size in an aggressive manner.

Justice Levers noted that Solicitor General Cheryll Richards had accepted the plea of manslaughter on the basis of provocation.

But the judge described the case for provocation as extremely borderline.

In sentencing, she accepted that Scott had no previous history of violence.

Although Ms. Grant’s taunting of Scott immediately prior to the stabbing could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, she said it was not a particularly grave act of provocation.

Scott was asked if he had anything to say for himself before being sentenced.

‘I didn’t plan this nightmare,’ he said. ‘I wish Maureen’s family find a place in their heart and I hope my family and the court will forgive me,’ he said. ‘I still love her although she is gone.’

Justice Levers then handed down the sentence of 13 years, with time already served in custody to be taken into account.

‘You should consider yourself lucky because, in my view, there is no excuse for taking another’s life, whether it is a man or a woman’s,’ the judge said.