justice without mercy would be draconian, Justice Algernon Smith decided that
partly suspended sentences were appropriate for the three young women who
pleaded guilty to the 3 June robbery of Domino’s Pizza in Savannah, while the
younger man involved received probation.
Anasia Watson, Julissa Monique Avila and Addie Shanice Haylock will serve six
months, with the rest of their two-year sentence suspended. Time in custody
before sentencing will not count.
McLaughlin was not eligible for a partly suspended sentence because he is still
All four were
17 when they planned and executed the daytime robbery that netted them $366 and
two litres of soda. McLaughlin waited outside to drive the getaway car while
the three young women entered the premises with their faces covered and carrying
machetes. A machete was held to the throat of two employees, and they were
forced to hand over the money.
emphasised that the four teens were charged jointly, so it did not matter who
did what. Anything done by one in pursuance of a common design was attributable
to the others.
The four were
arrested around 19 June and have been in custody since. The females turned 18
since their offence, but McLaughlin will not be 18 until December.
In deciding the appropriate sentences,
Justice Smith noted the aggravating factors: carrying weapons, using
threatening words and the seeming prevalence of this type of offence.
Mitigating factors were cooperation and
admission of guilt at an early stage. The general policy is to encourage guilty
pleas, partly because they save time and money and spare witnesses from having
to attend court. A guilty plea may be evidence of contrition, he noted.
He cited authority for the idea that a
sentencing court must be particularly careful to examine each case to ensure
that if a custodial sentence is necessary, the sentence is as short as possible
consistent only with the duty to protect the interest of the public and to
punish and deter the criminal.
Justice Smith read extensively from
social inquiry reports on each defendant and quoted from letters they wrote
expressing remorse. None had previous convictions.
“An appropriate sentence must be one
which will serve to engender respect for law and order and promote a just,
peaceful and safe society and at the same time assist in the rehabilitation of
offenders,” he said.
Having regard to the circumstances of
the offence and the offenders, he arrived at the sentence of two years for the
young women. If they commit another imprisonable offence during the suspended
portion of this sentence, they will have to serve the balance, he said.
McLaughlin’s probation order includes
conditions for counselling, a 10pm curfew, random drug testing and a return to
school. Each defendant was ordered to pay $90 in compensation.
Before court adjourned, Crown Counsel
Elisabeth Lees said she wanted everyone to be aware that the Crown will appeal