Two of the four boys involved in the violent fracas at St Leonard’s Boys’ School earlier this week have been remanded to the Government Industrial School for the next four weeks.
The two, both 15 years old, pleaded guilty today before Magistrate Douglas Frederick to causing a disturbance at the educational institution on February 12. They also pleaded guilty to unlawfully wounding 16-year-old Shakeil Ian Nicholls, of 3rd Avenue, Gooding Road, Station Hill, St Michael, on the same day.
According to Sergeant Theodore McClean, one of the boys had a verbal dispute with Nicholls in one section of the school but subsequently left the area. They again encountered each other near the school’s library, where the 15-year-old questioned Nicholls about why he was looking at him and whether he was a homosexual. This reportedly angered Nicholls who cuffed the younger teen in the face, and a fight ensued. They fell to the ground and Nicholls was stabbed in the stomach during the scuffle.
The other 15-year-old, armed with a piece of metal, joined the fight and struck Nicholls in the back of the head. Nicholls’ 16-year-old friend, Jaheim Roberto Holder, of Brancker’s Land, Government Hill, St Michael, then fought off the two younger boys. One of the boys tried to run away but was pursued by Nicholls who caught up with him as he was trying to enter a van. Nicholls pulled out the boy but the 15-year-old subsequently escaped.
Nicholls was then informed that he was bleeding and was taken to the Queen Elizabeth for treatment.
Both 15-years-olds had nothing to say in the court today and it was their distraught mothers who spoke on their behalf. They asked for leniency for their sons, whom they described as helpful, saying they had never found themselves in such a situation before. One of the boys was not known for such behaviour while the other was recently on suspension for fighting.
Magistrate Frederick informed the two that they would be remanded until March 14 in order for the Probation Department to find out what was feeding their behaviour and to give an “assessment in how to treat you all”.
If the pre-sentencing report, which usually takes eight weeks, is not ready by the time the boys return to court, the magistrate will get a preliminary assessment to determine whether the students would stay at the facility or be released.
Meantime, Nicholls and Holder were released on $5,000 bail each after they denied causing a disturbance at their school.
Holder also pleaded not guilty to assaulting one of the younger boys, occasioning him actual bodily harm.
However, Sergeant Theodore McClean objected to bail on the basis that the incident took place on school grounds and during school hours.
“This appears to be an ongoing feud and it is feared that if granted bail these accused would reoffend or become victims themselves,” he stated.
However. Holder’s attorney Akelia Reid, while admitting that the situation was a serious one, said her client was not a violent young man and had never been before the court or the school for any infractions. She revealed that he was preparing for his CXC exams at the moment and “only got involved in the situation to protect someone else”.
Reid further submitted that conditions could be imposed to ensure the parties stay as far as possible from each other, considering that they attend the same school.
Legal counsel Rhea Layne, meanwhile, described Nicholls as a “good boy” who was a cadet for the past five years and a prefect who had “never been in trouble with the law or at school”.
“A prefect is not a position that is given lightly and is given to persons held in high esteem. He is a good boy, Sir . . . and I believe that . . . it will not be fair to him, for this one offence, . . . that he should go and sit down on remand,” the lawyer said as she revealed that Nicholls had been harmed by someone else and “had suffered multiple stab wounds”.
However, the magistrate made it clear that he was not pleased with what was “trending in Barbados” when it came to students at this time.
“Why are these things happening? . . . we need to get a firm hand to curtail these types of things. But based on your histories, you are not known for these types of things. I am not hearing that and the deputy principal said that you all are not the type of fellas that give trouble,” the magistrate said as he ruled in favour of the boys and granted them bail, to their mothers’ relief.
They return before the No. 1 District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court on April 12. In the meantime, though, they must adhere to a
6 p.m. to 7a.m. curfew daily.