Jury rejects self defence

Defendant went home to get machete

Orlando Albert Seymour, 24, was remanded in custody on Friday after a jury found him not guilty of attempted murder, but guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Injuries to the victim included two deep lacerations to the head and a fractured skull.

Defence Attorney Lucy Organ asked that Seymour be granted bail pending sentence so he could celebrate Christmas with his family.

Senior Crown Counsel John Masters said Christmas was not a reason for bail, and Justice Charles Quin refused because imprisonment was inevitable.

A jury of four women and three men found Seymour guilty of wounding Tareek Ricardo Ricketts, 19, at Ricketts’ girlfriend’s home in Bodden Town on 4 August, 2009.

The evidence was that Seymour lived nearby and was at the house talking to the girl when Ricketts drove into the yard. As Seymour was leaving, Ricketts told him to stay out of his and his girlfriend’s business.

Seymour said Ricketts used an expletive when he said that, and Seymour was scared as a result. Witnesses did not hear what the men said to each other, but Seymour left the yard and went in the direction of his home. While he was gone, Ricketts took his machete out of the car and laid it on the trunk, then went to get water to wash the car.

Ricketts and the witnesses saw Seymour return with a machete. Ricketts reached for his. Seymour denied chopping first, but the evidence was that he did. When Ricketts fell to the ground and dropped his machete, Seymour stood over him chopping and saying he was going to kill Ricketts.

Seymour told the court, “He attacked my feelings, so we had to fight it out.” He said he left the yard but went back because the matter was too serious to leave. He maintained that Ricketts chopped him first and then started strangling him, so he started to chop Ricketts’ head.

Justice Quin instructed the jury that when self-defence is raised, the Prosecution must prove the defendant was not acting in self-defence.

Jurors had to consider the situation. Was it necessary for Seymour to use force to defend himself?

It would not be self-defence if the jury found that Seymour was the aggressor and did not need to resort to violence.

If jurors were sure Seymour did not honestly believe he needed to defend himself, they didn’t need to consider it any further. But if they found that Seymour did honestly believe that he had to defend himself, then they had to consider his actions: was the type and amount of force used reasonable?

Mr. Masters had submitted that when Seymour went off to his own house and then came back, his sole purpose was either to kill or cause grievous bodily harm. He said Seymour’s intent was proved by his getting the machete and coming back with it.

Sentencing was set for 28 January.

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