Six years for unprovoked stabbing

Omar Badou Robinson, 24, was sentenced last Friday to six years imprisonment after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to Todd Walling Whittaker with intent.

The charge arose from an incident at the Red Bay Esso Station on 8 April 2006. Omar was 22 at the time and Todd was 20.

Omar was originally charged with attempted murder.

In passing sentence, Justice Charles Quin referred to the eight stab wounds inflicted. He said it was only because of the excellent care at the hospitals in George Town and Miami that Todd apparently lives a normal life.

The background to the charge was presented earlier in the week by Solicitor General Cheryll Richards. Justice Quin elaborated on some points in his sentencing remarks.

The security guard at the gas station saw Omar take something out of the trunk of the car he arrived in. That something turned out to be a knife. Omar then went in and bought some food and a can of iced tea. On the way out he made as if to hit the guard with the can.

Meanwhile Todd was standing in the parking lot. Omar, whom he knew before, came up and said ‘So, what’s happening?’ in what appeared to be an aggressive manner. Todd replied, ‘I don’t have any problem with you. You and I are not in anything.’

Omar then slapped him in the face. Todd responded by punching Omar and a fight ensued. Omar’s brother got them separated.

Todd realised from the blood on his shirt that he had been stabbed. A friend took him to hospital. All witnesses said Todd had not been armed.

His injuries included stab wounds to the chest and abdomen, causing lacerations to the liver and bowel. One injury to an artery in the upper chest could have caused death. Todd was lucky his right arm did not need amputation or become paralysed.

Ms Richards pointed out the aggravating features. The attack was unprovoked and instigated by Omar, who carried a weapon into a public place and used it against an unarmed person. The incident took place late at night and involved a number of stab wounds – all serious and one potentially fatal. Omar had a previous conviction for assault causing actual bodily harm.

Defence Attorney Nicholas Dixey reminded the court that in this case Omar had said at an early stage he would plead guilty to the grievous bodily harm charge. He said he knew Todd and they never had a problem before.

On the night of the incident, Omar went out with others. At the first bar, he drank three or four glasses of cognac and a coupe of beers. At the next bar, more drinks were consumed.

He recalled putting the knife in his pocket, and although he did not remember what his intentions were, he did not consciously set out to stab anyone that night.

Mr. Dixey said Omar accepted that intoxication in no way lessened the offence, but it did go some way to explain otherwise irrational behaviour. There did not seem to be any plan or conspiracy.

Omar had expressed remorse and offered an apology to Todd. The scars Todd has are disfiguring, Mr. Dixey accepted, but they did not affect his face or cause permanent disability.

Justice Quin noted that previous cases had been brought to his attention in which the sentences had ranged from three to eight years, but sentences of over eight years had been upheld when appealed.

When he considered the unprovoked nature of the attack and the number of stab wounds, he said he was thinking of a sentence of 10 years. However, he considered Omar’s early indication of his willingness to admit what he had done, take full responsibility for what he had done and express his remorse.

The judge noted it was common ground that Omar had taken the knife into the gas station, so what happened was not entirely unpremeditated.

Mr. Dixey remarked earlier that if Omar had not armed himself, he would not be sitting in the dock for sentencing.

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