A young man with no previous convictions received a suspended sentence on Thursday after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to a woman at what was supposed to have been a birthday celebration.
Hector Latrell Whittaker, 23, admitted causing the injury, a laceration to the woman’s left cheek that required three stitches. Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson described the injury as serious and likely to leave a permanent scar.
He said Mr. Whittaker was charged after an incident at Da Station Bar around 12:30 a.m. on March 25, 2017. The defendant, his girlfriend at the time, and other people were out drinking. They were all intoxicated to varying degrees because it was Mr. Whittaker’s girlfriend’s birthday.
In a statement that formed the basis of his plea, Mr. Whittaker said he was arguing with his girlfriend when the complainant joined in. She pushed him hard in the chest without provocation, causing pain and causing him to step back.
He accepted that he had a bottle in his right hand at the time, as he was drinking beer. He instinctively reacted to being pushed and swung his right hand in her direction. A fight ensued.
He later discovered that she had an injury to the side of her face, but he was not sure at what point she received it. He accepted that he had caused it with the beer bottle.
Mr. Ferguson said the woman was taken to hospital, where the one-centimeter, V-shaped wound was sutured and she was prescribed antibiotics. She had a bill for $399.92 over and above what was covered by her insurance.
Mr. Ferguson agreed that there had been no premeditation, but that alcohol had played a part in what happened that night. He referred to the victim impact report, giving some details of the woman’s account of the incident. Justice Michael Wood said he had to adhere to the terms of the basis of plea, which had been signed by the defendant and agreed to by counsel for the defense and for the Crown.
The defendant had been charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent to inflict such harm and an alternative offense of inflicting grievous bodily harm without the ingredient of intent.
Mr. Whittaker pleaded not guilty to both charges in October 2017. His trial was set for Feb. 19 and on that date he pleaded guilty to the lesser of the two charges. Because of the late plea, Mr. Ferguson argued that Mr. Whittaker should not get more than a 10 percent discount in his sentence.
Defense attorney Crister Brady took issue with the amount of credit that should be given for the guilty plea, indicating circumstances that included a change of counsel.
The judge said a date before the trial could have been requested so that Mr. Whittaker could have entered his plea sooner. On the trial date, the complainant would have attended and jurors would presumably have been present, he pointed out.
Mr. Brady said all parties agreed that the incident should never have happened. Alcohol consumption had led to a series of poor decisions that night, he agreed.
The attorney explained the relationships between the parties, including the fact that the complainant/victim was godmother to the defendant’s child. He said Mr. Whittaker was willing to pay the victim’s outstanding medical bill.
Justice Wood said he had reviewed the social inquiry report and the fact that others had spoken well of Mr. Whittaker. He agreed that alcohol had been the fuse for this unpleasant incident, which had led to the injury to the young woman’s face. That injury would no doubt lead to scarring for some time, he indicated.
With a maximum sentence of seven years and a guideline range of 12 months to three years, the offense would have attracted a sentence of 20 months after trial, he noted. The judge said he allowed a 15 percent discount, resulting in a term of 17 months, suspended for two years.
The defendant is to attend any anger management program directed by his probation officer, pay compensation through the courts and not contact the complainant. If Mr. Whittaker commits another offense in the next two years, he will almost certainly go to prison for this one, the judge warned.