Alcohol no excuse for attack

Blow affected victim’s sight

Alvin Winston Brown pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm, although he initially had no memory of the incident because he was drunk.

‘If I wasn’t drinking, I wouldn’t do that,’ he said in an interview after he hit a man at Kelly’s Bar in West Bay on 16 November 2007.

In handing down a sentence of five years imprisonment on 27 November this year, Justice Lennox Campbell commented that the victim’s only sin was sitting with friends in a public place.

Senior Crown Counsel Trevor Ward presented the facts in October and the matter was adjourned after Defence Attorney Nicholas Dixey asked for a social inquiry report.

Mr. Ward said the incident occurred around 7.30pm. The complainant was sitting at a table outside the bar with a female friend when he became aware of someone walking directly toward him. He did not recognise at first that it was Brown.

Brown said ‘I am setting an example.’ Asked what example, Brown said, ‘I got to have respect.’

The complainant replied, ‘Respect is due to everyone. You’ve got to give respect to get respect. You’ve got to respect your elders.’

Brown started tapping the other man on the shoulder and words were exchanged. The man told Brown, ‘I respect you. I don’t want to start a fight. Chill out. Please chill out.’

He then started to turn away and Brown lashed out with a punch that caught him in the right eye.

The man fell to the ground and was unconscious for a short period. He was unable to see from his right eye. The doctor who examined him at hospital observed swelling of the eyelids and haemorrhaging. He also observed that the man had previously undergone surgery in which the lens had been removed from the eye.

Justice Campbell asked about the condition of the other eye. Mr. Ward said the doctor observed a lens transplant in the left eye.

‘You take your complainant as you find him,’ the judge commented.

‘That’s the difficulty we find ourselves in,’ Mr. Dixey replied.

Mr. Ward said the man had lost vision in the eye. Ultrasound showed retinal detachment and he was referred to a retinal surgeon in Jamaica. That doctor said the injury was serious and likely to be permanent.

The only similar case cited involved a man in a bar hitting someone with a beer bottle. That victim had a previous history of eye problems, including a partially detached retina. That attack was also completely unprovoked and involved drinking. The defendant, a man of previous good character, received a sentence of three and a half years, Mr. Ward summarised.

The judge said he found that precedent very helpful

Mr. Dixey said there was an unhappy similarity between the two cases because they both involved a copious amount of alcohol leading to violence. However, he pointed out, Brown had not used any weapon, just his fist.

The attorney asked the court to consider the social inquiry report, which set out a sorry tale of Brown’s upbringing. It was easy to explain – but not excuse – why Brown found himself before the court. He now seemed to have finally taken the first step of admitting his problem.

Mr. Dixey accepted Brown’s previous convictions, including violence against his brother that led to a prison sentence of three years. ‘Since 2000, he has only received custodial sentences,’ the attorney noted. There had never been any court-supervised intervention that would assist Brown.

He suggested probation with a period of residential treatment. ‘Putting him in prison gives the public a break from his behaviour, but it doesn’t stop the behaviour,’ he said.

Justice Campbell reviewed Brown’s previous conviction, which included acts of violence. He said his sentence would give Brown time to reflect and perhaps obtain the help he said he needed.