Husband must serve assault sentence

Carl Anthony Stephens was ordered on Friday to serve the nine months imposed on him in Summary Court for assaulting his wife despite pleas from his wife to keep him out of jail.

Justice Charles Quin heard the appeal against the sentence and said it was lenient.

Stephens was found guilty after trial in February. Magistrate Grace Donalds imposed a term of three months imprisonment and activated a previously suspended sentence of six months to be served consecutively.

The six-month term had been imposed after conviction for assaulting police.

In Grand Court, Defence Attorney Ben Tonner told Justice Quin that Stephens was granted bail pending appeal in March.

He said Mrs. Stephens had written two letters saying she did not want her husband to go to prison. She had not even wanted to give evidence, but under the law a wife is now a compellable witness.

In making a report of the incident that led to his conviction, Mrs. Stephens intended that her husband get counselling and anger management to improve their marital situation and allow him to provide for the family.

Mr. Tonner reported Mrs. Stephens as being devastated to learn her husband was imprisoned for nine months.

He pointed out that Stephens did not have an attorney for his trial. After the guilty verdict the magistrate did not make any inquiries or order a social inquiry report or victim impact statement.

‘Had the court done so, the court would not have imposed a custodial sentence; it would have imposed a community-based sentence with anger-management classes,’ Mr. Tonner submitted. He concluded that the magistrate had erred in principle by imposing the wrong type of sentence.

The judge, who was given both letters to read, noted that the wife was unable to work because of illness.

Solicitor General Cheryll Richards said the question for the court was whether the sentence was manifestly excessive in the circumstances of the case. ‘It is not,’ she asserted.

She summarised the magistrate’s notes of evidence from the trial and handed up photographs of the wife’s injuries.

Ms Richards pointed out that Stephens had a conviction for assault causing actual bodily harm in 2005 and a conviction for assaulting police in May 2007. That sentence was a term of six months, which was suspended for two years.

The incident with his wife occurred in August 2008.

‘That has to be considered in the most serious light,’ Ms Richards said. ‘He took lightly the admonitions of the court and disregarded having a sentence hanging over his head.’

In his decision, Justice Quin told Stephens he was fortunate to have such a loving and caring wife. ‘Offences against women are something society abhors. You didn’t seem to consider the mental anguish you put your wife through.’

He agreed with Ms Richards that the sentence was lenient. He also agreed there had been no social inquiry report. ‘But your previous convictions and suspended sentence would override that,’ he told Stephens.

He ordered that Stephens receive counselling while in prison and gave him credit for time served until he was bailed pending appeal.