Had convictions for violence
Donovan Pitterson, 36, was sentenced to three and half year’s imprisonment last week after pleading guilty to wounding another man, but without specific intent.
The victim, Oivind Aareskjold, was cut on the right arm and had to be transported to the US for surgery to repair tendons. He lost some use of his right hand.
The wounding occurred at a social event in the Outpost Street area of George Town on 25 February this year – the Ash Wednesday holiday.
Crown Counsel Alister Cumming said there was a small gathering at the home of JR Addison, who was having a barbecue from around 2pm. Around 5.30pm Pitterson arrived with a friend who had been at the party earlier.
Pitterson was welcomed, given drinks and told to make himself at home. However, during the course of the evening Pitterson began making a nuisance of himself. ‘He behaved in a way that which certain of the female witnesses found to be offensive,’ Mr. Cumming said.
Mr. Addison asked him to leave, but Pitterson refused saying things along the line of, ‘This is my island, this is my house; I can do what I want.’ The situation deteriorated and a struggle ensued between Mr. Addison and Pitterson.
Mr. Aareskjold intervened and tried to separate the two. At some point Pitterson picked up plant pots and threw them. Mr. Addison threw a bottle at Pitterson.
The bottle hit Pitterson in the head and it was after that when he produced a knife. It struck Mr. Aareskjold on the right forearm, causing a gash that bled profusely.
Pitterson left the scene. Interviewed a few days later, he admitted an altercation but denied use of a knife.
Scheduled to go to trial on a charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, he pleaded not guilty but guilty to wounding.
That distinction was explained by Defence Attorney John Furniss. He said Pitterson acknowledged a 1998 conviction for causing grievous bodily harm with a two-by-four piece of wood, and a 2002 conviction for the same offence, this time with a knife.
In each case, he received a sentence of five years, while the maximum was life imprisonment. Mr. Furniss said the law was changed after 2002 to provide for a distinction between causing grievous bodily harm with intent and without intent. Without intent, the maximum is seven years.
Mr. Furniss said Pitterson’s latest offence was not the worst of its kind, so the court should not start at the seven-year mark. Plus credit had to be given for the guilty plea.
Justice Alex Henderson asked why Pitterson was carrying a knife. ‘If he hadn’t gone to the party with a knife this would have been no more than an unpleasant scene,’ he commented.
‘Possible with a fist fight or something of that nature,’ Mr. Furniss agreed. Unfortunately, Pitterson had armed himself ‘for his own protection.’ He emphasised that the knife was not used immediately – only after a bottle hit Pitterson in the head and cut him.
Mr. Furniss cited the case of Alvin Brown, heard in the Court of Appeal earlier this month. He had been sentenced to five years imprisonment after pleading guilty to wounding without intent. His victim received a serious injury that could be permanent and could cause the loss of vision in one eye. Brown also had a previous conviction for causing grievous bodily harm.
In his case, the Court of Appeal referred to the fact that the offence was not premeditated and not sustained. Mr. Furniss quoted the court as saying if Brown had gone to trial he would have got four or five years. The sentencing judge had started at seven years and allowed one-third discount for the guilty plea. But the offence was not a ‘worst case’ scenario, so Brown’s sentence was reduced to three and a half years.
Justice Henderson accepted this as the most helpful precedent. He said he would have given Pitterson five and a half years after trial; because of the guilty plea, the sentence was reduced to three and a half years.