A burglar who reached through a house window to steal a mobile phone in the middle of the night assaulted two women after he was caught in the act, a court heard.
Cliff Albert Smith was sentenced Thursday to five years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to seven sets of offenses.
Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn agreed with defense attorney Alice Carver that the burglary in the early hours of Nov. 13, 2015, was unusual, in that Smith admitted opening a window and reaching in to steal a phone.
The magistrate pointed to new sentencing guidelines that say it is an aggravating factor when occupants are home at the time a residence is entered. In this case, injuries caused to women in the house were charged separately.
Crown counsel Scott Wainwright said the incident occurred in George Town when a woman in the house heard a window opening and saw a man standing outside. She told him to leave and called police.
The man started throwing stones at the house. She opened the door and challenged him and he then threw a rock and a bucket at her. She ran after him and there was a struggle.
Mr. Wainwright said the man had something over his face. In the struggle, the covering came loose and the woman recognized the suspect as someone who walked through the area regularly. As they grappled, she fell to the ground and he kicked her in the face, breaking her nose.
The woman’s elderly parents were awakened and her mother came to her aid. The burglar assaulted the mother before running away.
When police arrived, they found Smith hiding in nearby bush, with the house occupant’s phone in his possession. Smith, 46, denied any recollection of the incident, saying he had been drinking heavily.
Ms. Carver said Smith’s alcohol and ganja abuse were at the root of his offending. He asked to be sent to Caribbean Haven for residential treatment. “He is remorseful … embarrassed … he wants to be given a chance,” Ms. Carver concluded.
The magistrate had adjourned sentencing until Thursday because she had given Smith a suspended sentence in 2012 and wanted to review her notes. She also wanted to consider Smith’s offending since 2012, as outlined by Mr. Wainwright.
The magistrate noted that Smith had 52 previous convictions for drugs, violence and dishonesty. When he came before her in 2012, she gave him a 12-month sentence suspended for two years. Admitting his addiction problems then, he had said, “I can’t do it myself. I want to try the program. I’m smarter and older. I don’t want to go to prison.”
Smith’s sentence at the time included conditions that he attend counseling and outpatient and relapse prevention programs at least twice per week.
“He had ample opportunity to avail himself of the treatment programs mandated,” the magistrate pointed out. She had to conclude that his plea for rehabilitation in 2012 was a hollow one and she was unable to consider that his plea now was any more genuine.
Passing sentence on Thursday, the magistrate said she hoped Smith would take advantage of treatment programs at Northward and go to the counseling center if needed after his release.
Smith was charged with carrying a restricted weapon in February 2013.
While on bail for that, he was charged with disorderly conduct at a supermarket and then a daylight burglary at a residence in which a watch was stolen and a DVD player. He pleaded guilty to that offense.
In 2015, he assaulted a man he said owed him money and he was found with ganja in his pocket while at the George Town Police Station.
In sentencing, the magistrate activated the 12-month term she had suspended in 2012. For the daylight burglary, she sentenced him to two years.
For the “hand through window” burglary, she sentenced Smith to 26 months, to be served consecutively. The assaults that followed were serious, she said.
In addition to a broken nose, the young woman had sustained lacerations to her lip, a swollen face and one fingernail was ripped from the nail bed. The sentence should have been 18 months, but the guilty plea reduced that to 12 months, the magistrate said.
Hitting the woman’s mother was charged as common assault, which attracted a sentence of four months, reduced to 10 weeks for the guilty plea.
Considering totality of sentence, the magistrate ordered that only six months should be consecutive. All other sentences were made to run concurrently. Sentences for the earlier burglary and the November incident are to be served after the suspended sentence.