Defendants unable to pay compensation
Two young men received prison terms last week after admitting their roles in a family fracas that left at least three people injured, including one of the defendants.
Roland Welcome, 24, broke his arm in the incident, which occurred over the weekend of Feb. 23, 2013, at the family compound in East End and involved alcohol. He received a term of three months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to damaging a truck that belonged to his uncle, Winford Rankine.
Antascio Rankine, 20, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to two charges of wounding. One victim was his uncle, the senior Mr. Rankine; the other was his uncle’s brother-in-law, James Hurley Chisholm.
Winford Rankine’s injuries included a fractured bone in his right hand and cuts to his face that affected his sinuses. Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson said the injuries were likely to be permanent if Mr. Rankine did not have surgery to repair them.
Mr. Chisholm was hit with a machete that cut muscles, tendons and into the bones of his left forearm and wrist. These injuries were surgically repaired but damage was likely to be permanent, Mr. Ferguson told Justice Michael Mettyear.
He explained that the victims live in different houses on the same property. On the night of the incident they were socializing. The defendants and another man were at a different house on the same compound.
At some point, while Winford Rankine was in his house, Antascio Rankine asked Mr. Chisholm for a cigarette. Mr. Chisholm said he didn’t have any, and Rankine punched him in the eye.
Mr. Chisholm asked why Rankine had hit him and called for two other men to assist in getting Rankine off the premises.
As he turned to walk away, he saw Rankine approach him with a machete. He put up his arm and received a chop to his wrist.
Meanwhile, Winford Rankine heard noises and went to his door. He saw Welcome hitting his truck with a two-by-four. Welcome broke the rear lamps and window, the windscreen and the windows on the driver’s and passenger’s sides. He asked Welcome why he was doing this. Antascio Rankine came up to the doorway and struck the older man with a pocket knife. Winford Rankine received a laceration below his right eye to his nose and another on his forehead.
Winford Rankine’s medical bills were largely covered by insurance, but he had out-of-pocket expenses. The damage to his truck was estimated at $6,490.
Mr. Chisholm did not have insurance. His medical bills totaled $9,901.50.
Defense attorneys John Furniss and Prathna Bodden told the court that their clients had been unemployed since the incident, in part because they were wearing electronic monitors.
In passing sentence, Justice Mettyear said the offenses were violent behavior with weapons in the context of drink. The fact that it was a dispute among family members made it no better: families as much as strangers deserve to be protected by the court, he observed.
The judge said Antascio Rankine was lucky the injuries were not worse. “You could have killed someone,” he pointed out.
The judge noted that Winford Rankine and Mr. Chisholm had suffered physically, mentally and financially. “I wish it was possible to help them, at least financially, but you don’t have work [or] money … Both deserve to be compensated by you.”
He declined to give much discount for Rankine’s guilty pleas, which were given the day the trial was to have started. “The later the plea, the less discount,” he said.
Sentencing guidelines indicated a range of three-and-a-half to four years, but the judge said there were some good things that could be said about Rankine. These included his relative youth and not a bad record of previous offending. Taking these factors into account, he reached a sentence of two-and-a-half years.
However, Mr. Furniss had pointed out that Rankine wore the electronic ankle tag for some 19 months. There is no provision in local law to allow a discount for time on an electronic monitoring device, but there is precedent on the basis that the monitor curtails a person’s liberty.
On that basis, the judge imposed terms of two years and one year, but made them run concurrently.
The judge acknowledged that Welcome’s situation was somewhat different, in that he had been facing more serious charges that were dropped. He said the damage to the vehicle was disgraceful, bad-tempered, drunken misbehavior that caused loss to the insurers of the vehicle and to his uncle.
Ms. Bodden had said that Welcome felt bad about what happened; he had apologized and was “willing to pay something.”
Justice Mettyear replied, “He can do that voluntarily if there’s any truth in it.”
He noted that Welcome was currently serving a 12-month sentence for possession of an unlicensed BB gun, but said only a custodial sentence was justified for the damage. He accepted Ms. Bodden’s mitigation and handed down a three-month consecutive sentence.