Being under the influence of alcohol was no excuse for the behavior that brought a man to Summary Court last week, when he pleaded guilty to wounding, possession of an offensive weapon and disorderly conduct at a licensed premises.
Defense attorney Dennis Brady told the court that his client, Duncan Winston Carter, used alcohol as a coping mechanism after he was made redundant from a civil service job he had held for 13 years.
“He pleads guilty, not to a deliberate act, but to an unfortunate accident which would not have occurred but for alcohol,” Mr. Brady explained.
Magistrate Grace Donalds said that the injury caused might have been accidental, but the consumption of alcohol that fueled it had been deliberate.
Crown counsel Neil Kumar said Carter attended Meringue Town Bar, owned by Lucille Barnes, around 2 a.m. on Nov. 1, 2014. There, Carter had an altercation with a family member of his and a scuffle took place.
A security guard put him out and Carter was upset. He broke a bottle and tried to re-enter the bar, but security guards held him. When Ms. Barnes went out and spoke to him, Carter cut her hand with the broken bottle; stitches were required to close the wound.
When interviewed by police days later, Carter said that Ms. Barnes had held his hand. There was wrestling and a downward movement and that was when the bottle cut her. The magistrate had a summary of facts and photographs of the injury.
“I saw Your Honor’s reaction to the photo,” Mr. Brady acknowledged, adding that the appearance of the injury was much worse than it actually was. He said Ms. Barnes got cut because she was trying to get Carter to desist from behavior she knew was out of character.
The incident had started when someone made a disparaging remark about Carter’s grandmother. She had raised him and Carter was defending her, the attorney explained.
A social inquiry report had concluded that Carter’s potential for further offending was very low. Now 43, he was of previous good character, and had never been arrested. He did not carry any weapon to the bar and he did not go there intending to cause trouble.
As a result of this incident, he was trying to desist from alcohol, accepting that he was not physically equipped to handle it.
Mr. Brady explained that Carter is a Honduran national married to a non-Caymanian on work permit. In order to go forward in work, he will need a clean police record. The attorney therefore asked that no conviction be recorded against Carter.
The magistrate said that in the circumstances of this case she did not feel it appropriate to not record a conviction.
Mr. Brady urged her to consider that even the person injured had supported the fact that she and the guards were trying to calm him down. But for the alcohol, Carter could have pleaded not guilty on the basis that it was an accident, “but he didn’t try to dance around the facts,” the attorney said.
The defendant’s family was willing to assist him to pay compensation, he noted. “I ask that he be allowed to live and work in these Cayman Islands,” Mr. Brady concluded.
The magistrate passed sentences of 40 hours of community service for disorderly conduct, 90 hours for wounding and 40 hours for possession of an offensive weapon. She gave Carter one year in which to complete the total 170 hours.