A man serving a six-year sentence for a stabbing outside a West Bay Road nightclub had his sentenced reduced in the Court of Appeal on Monday.
Carlo Malik Webster Jr.’s attorney Johnathon Hughes appealed the sentence on the grounds that the judge mischaracterised the wounding, did not balance the mitigating and aggravating circumstances properly, and failed to give Webster full credit for his guilty plea.
The stabbing occurred outside the Jungle nightclub in March 2017, when an argument broke out between Webster and his friends and another of group of men. CCTV video of the incident showed Webster pulling a knife from his pocket, stabbing a man once and then returning it to his pocket.
The victim suffered a 5×2-centimetre stab wound to his lower abdomen.
Webster was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years for the charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Hughes argued that Justice Roger Chapple incorrectly characterised the wounding as “life-threatening” because the medical report termed it as a “serious injury”. Hughes also argued that not enough weight was taken into the Webster’s circumstances at the time of the of stabbing.
“Webster’s father was murdered, his mother was suffering from mental illnesses and drug addiction, so he was placed into the Bonaventure Boys Home at a young age,” said Hughes. “When he turned 17, he was no longer eligible to stay at the boys home, so he was taken out, and he landed hard.”
The appeal judges heard that with “no guidance” and “no one to turn to”, Webster was left to his devices. Webster’s criminal record shows some 15 convictions for offences ranging from assaulting police, arson, burglary and handling stolen goods. However, at the time of the stabbing, he was 21 and had gone several years without committing any criminal offences. Hughes said this was a clear indication of Webster’s desire to change his life.
On the third grounds of appeal, Hughes argued that Justice Chapple should have given Webster a full one-third reduction from the prison sentence to reflect an early guilty plea, instead of a 20% discount.
Webster did not enter a guilty plea on his first occasion. Hughes said this was no fault of his client, instead it was to allow for discussions between the defence and the prosecution to conclude over a charge of robbery, which was ultimately left on file. Hughes says by only granting a 20% discount, Justice Chapple passed a sentence which was 12 months longer than it should have been.
Crown prosecutor Kenneth Ferguson conceded to this point and offered no objections.
The appeal judges declined to grant leave to appeal on the first two grounds saying, “Even though the report did not characterise the injury as life-threatening, Justice Chapple was well within his rights of discretion to treat it as such, and he applied proper balance when weighing the mitigating and aggravating circumstances.”
It was on the third grounds of appeal the judges agreed with Hughes. They found that in light of the ongoing discussions between the prosecution and the defence, Webster did enter a guilty plea at an early stage. They overturned the sentence of six years and imposed a five-year sentence.