A Caribbean Utilities Company linesman who had been with the company for 20 years lost his job after assaulting a department manager, Justice Charles Quin heard on Wednesday.
Vaughan Wilks, 40, pleaded guilty to unlawfully wounding the manager at the CUC offices on Sept. 19, 2014. The defendant admitted punching him in the face twice and then hitting him with a hard hat, causing a 2-inch laceration to the top of his head.
The court heard that Wilks had been having job performance issues and had been placed on probation in 2013. In 2014, he began to refuse to work weekends, explaining that he had to look after his child while his wife worked.
The lines superintendent subsequently emailed Wilks, instructing him to work a particular weekend. Wilks responded that he had to take care of his child.
As a result, management decided to give him a three-day suspension. At a meeting later, Wilks was informed of the suspension. A letter was read to him, but he refused to sign it.
As the manager moved to pick up a pen, Wilks thought he was going to be attacked and he had to defend himself, defense attorney Clyde Allen said. Wilks punched the manager twice, near the eyes. He then picked up his hard hat and hit the man over the head with it.
The manager was taken to hospital, where an examination showed significant swelling and redness around the eyes, which were bloodshot. An X-ray showed no abnormalities and no broken bones. The injured man experienced tenderness for some time, but there was no permanent injury or disability.
Mr. Allen spoke of the pressure his client had been under in his efforts to help meet his family’s financial obligations. Wilks was sorry for what he did, the attorney said. The assault was a spontaneous act that had had serious consequences. Having lost his job, Wilks was not entitled to employee benefits and was still looking for work.
Crown counsel Nicole Petit said a possible aggravating factor was the fact that the incident occurred in the workplace, where one does not expect to be assaulted by a colleague.
Justice Quin referred to Wilks’s previously outstanding work record, his lack of previous convictions and his standing as a man of good character who had now lost his job.
“I consider the complainant is to be commended for not embellishing his injuries,” he said, adding that the man had fully recovered.
“I don’t know the contractual terms of work, but after 20 years it is regrettable some arrangement could not be worked out,” the judge commented.
He bound Wilks over on his own recognizance in the sum of $500 to keep the peace and be of good behavior for 12 months.