Prison, according to convicted arsonist Joel McKenzie McDonald Springer, has been both a punishment and a blessing.
“This experience in prison has brought me closer to the Lord. I live my life on the promise of Matthew 6:33,” the Hope Road and Northumberland, St Lucy resident said in addressing Justice Randall Worrell in the No. 2 Supreme Court this afternoon.
“I am thankful. I am responsible for what transpired. I have learnt my lesson. I never thought I could bathe and dry with a washcloth. I see my imprisonment not only as a punishment, but as a blessing,” he said.
The 52-year-old had previously admitted that he and an unknown person had possession of a pipe gun and one round of ammunition on May 21, 2014. He also pleaded guilty to the charge that he and an unknown person damaged by fire the home of Mervin Koieman and also entered the home of Nicole Hinds on the same date and inflicted grievous bodily harm on her. Springer and the unknown person had a knife and a firearm at the time of the offences.
“I pray that the court will have mercy on me and allow me at this stage to live my life. I believe that God will restore my life,” the first-time offender said as he disclosed that he had left five children behind in society.
“But right now I have 70 [children] all these young guys in prison. If you ask me if I will do good in prison I will say yes,” he added.
Defence attorney Angella Mitchell-Gittens revealed that unlike other reports for other convicted persons Springer had never used marijuana and that in it self was “unique”. The reports on his life she said: “Paint a picture of a person who it would appear, ought not to have found himself in a dock at the age of 52 convicted of very serious offences.”
She explained that Springer, from all accounts, had a good upbringing and was described as humble, reliant, pleasant, with a positive work ethic and had no previous convictions. While Mitchell-Gittens made it clear that she was only learned in law she said it appeared that “after the loss of his daughter Mr Springer would have suffered a great trauma and from reading the report there appears to be no intervention or sufficient intervention at that time and I suspect that is where things would have taken a turn.”
The lawyer also stated that while the offences were serious she saw no aggravating factors to Springer as an offender. He has also been deemed as having no risk of reoffending.
The defence counsel also pointed out that Springer, as a trustee on his prison block, had pleaded guilty to the offences and was remorseful. Springer she said had been on remand at Dodds for the past 66 months and urged the court to be lenient in its sentence.
Senior Crown Counsel Olivia Davis in her submissions on sentencing told the court that a starting point of 15 years should be imposed on the convicted man with the necessary deductions being credited.
Earlier this year Davis, in outlining the facts revealed that Hinds and Springer had been in a relationship for 17 to 18 years but the relationship had ended in May 2014.
On May 21 that year Hinds, who is a mother of three, was at home with a male friend at a rented property when they were awoken to a noise around 11:30 p.m. She saw two figures in the dark bedroom and as she shouted for her son she felt a pain to her head and something warm running down her face. She began to fight with the perpetrator. At one point the light located in the bedroom came on and she was able to see Springer’s face as he stood over her.
The male friend, according to Davis, saw a man coming from a manhole in the bedroom but both men were wearing masks. One of them he said held him by his throat.
Police were summoned to the scene and it was at that time that lawmen saw smoke coming from the roof of the next-door apartment.
Hinds was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment of three stab wounds to the head, three to the back, a laceration under her left foot, a wound to her knee and loss of fingernails.
“The Crown recognises it is a first offence with its genius from a failed relationship. Starting point of 15 years [should be applied] discount of five years for the guilty plea bringing it to 10 years. Time on remand to be credited,” the prosecutor said after outlining the aggravating and mitigating features of the crime.
Springer will be sentenced on November 26.