Community help needed for defendant’s rehabilitation, judge says
A man with mental health issues was given a suspended sentence with numerous conditions after he pleaded guilty to wounding and common assault. One of those conditions is that he pay $50 per week towards hospital bills of $11,397 for the man who was wounded.
Wayne Jeffrey Dilbert, 56, admitted stabbing one man five times and punching another man in the face, injuring his eye and mouth. Both were friends with whom he had been drinking.
Justice Charles Quin heard the facts from Crown counsel Nicole Petit and mitigation from defense attorney Fiona Robertson on May 28. Hearing that both victims had urged that Dilbert not be punished, he said he would take that into account, but there had to be consistency in sentencing for similar offenses. Because of the numerous factors he was asked to consider, the judge adjourned sentencing until last Thursday.
Agreed facts were that the three men were out socializing on March 17, 2013 in the Bodden Town area. The driver decided he had had enough and wished to end the night, so he was going to drive home.
An argument ensued and Dilbert used a pocket knife to stab him – once in the lower abdomen and four times in the buttocks. He was in the Critical Care Unit for two days before being discharged from hospital on March 20, 2013.
A medical report described the injuries as not serious or permanent, but Justice Quin remarked that being monitored in critical care and not being allowed to eat for two days was to his mind quite serious. He pointed out that the wound to the abdomen could have been fatal.
Detailed reports about Dilbert indicated he had been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder in 2005, but a more recent report referred to post-traumatic stress disorder, which caused Dilbert to black out when he sensed danger. His condition was made worse when he consumed alcohol.
Ms. Robinson explained that on the night of the incident, as the men got more and more drunk, Dilbert became paranoid and when the argument started he thought he was going to be “ganged.” That was when he took out the knife and used it “in response to a perceived threat.”
Since the incident, Dilbert has been attending the Mental Health Court and Alcoholics Anonymous; he has completed a course in anger management. “The incident made him realize he had to get help,” Ms. Robinson said.
Justice Quin referred to the social inquiry report which said that Dilbert is now living in a halfway house, where he is compliant with all rules and testing negative for illegal drugs. The psychiatric report said Dilbert’s disorder affected his decision making and it was exacerbated by alcohol use.
His use of a knife in this incident had to lead to a custodial sentence, the judge said, and he considered 18 months to be the appropriate sentence, with six months concurrent for the common assault on the other man.
However, in light of all the circumstances, including the fact that Dilbert had no previous convictions for violence, he was prepared to suspend the sentence for 12 months. His orders included continued monitoring by the Mental Health Court, strict adherence to medication ordered by the psychiatrist, monitoring by the Department of Community Rehabilitation, random drug and alcohol testing. He ordered that Dilbert be banned from all liquor-licensed premises, complete one-to-one counseling and the intensive out-patient program.
He ordered that Dilbert pay $50 per week as compensation to the Health Services Authority.
This is a small island, Justice Quin observed. Many residents were aware of individuals like Dilbert and his ailments. Anyone who has provided him with drugs or alcohol should desist from doing so, as it was clear that the results were costly and could have been life-threatening, not only to those involved but to innocent bystanders.
He pointed out that people like Dilbert and his friends driving around intoxicated presented a serious threat to all road users.
“This is a clear case when a community is called on to participate in the rehabilitation of a citizen and alert authorities immediately when ill persons such as the defendant are seen purchasing liquor or drugs,” he said.