The Joint Court of Justice sentenced a 28-year-old woman from Saba to three years, one of which was suspended, on two years’ probation, for having stabbed a man with a box-cutter during a fight near Scout’s Place in Windwardside, Saba, on August 19, 2017. The Appeals Court pronounced the verdict at the Courthouse in St. Maarten on Tuesday, January 28.
In sentencing, the Joint Court overturned the verdict of the Court of First Instance which had acquitted Gabriella Catherine Granger of attempted manslaughter but had found her guilty of inflicting severe bodily harm and sentenced her to 485 days in prison, 365 of which were suspended, on three years’ probation, and 240 hours of community
The Prosecutor’s Office had filed an appeal, and the Solicitor-General recommended a prison sentence of four years, one of which was to be suspended, on two years’ probation.
Lawyer Shaira Bommel had pleaded for her client’s acquittal and dismissal from prosecution, as the woman had acted in self-defence and had been overpowered by emotions.
The suspect never had the intention to kill or seriously injure the victim, who was involved in a fight with her brother, the lawyer had said during the appeal hearing. The Joint Court found it proven that the suspect had used a Stanley knife, which she usually uses to cut open boxes and for cutting chair covers, to lash out with a stretched arm in the direction of the victim’s neck.
The man was injured and sustained three cuts. The most severe cut with a length of 12 centimetres (4.7 inches) ended in the victim’s neck only a few millimetres from the carotid artery.
Considering the swinging and forceful nature of the attack, the Appeals Court judges found that the violence could have led to the victim’s death. Therefore, the Court considered at-
tempted manslaughter proven.
Lawyer Bommel had stated that the suspect had acted to defend her brother who was attacked by the victim. She had panicked and had acted on impulse, an “automatic reaction under a threatening circumstance,” according to the lawyer. Bommel claimed that the victim had often displayed aggressive behaviour towards the suspect’s brother and others in Saba. During her trial, the defendant had said that she had “just responded” and then got a blackout.
The Appeals Court stated that the woman had provided differing statements about her state of mind. To the police she had said that she had been under the influence of alcoholic beverages, but that she was quiet and had feared for her brother and herself. In the Court of First Instance she had stated that she had responded impulsively. From none of these statements could it be derived that the suspect had acted on the basis of a fierce emotion, the Court stated in the verdict.
The position of the counsellor on appeal claiming that the suspect had acted out of panic and anger did not find any support in the suspect’s statements, according to the Court.
In sentencing, the judges took into consideration that the defendant was a first offender and that she had wanted to defend her brother.
The Daily Herald