A St Joseph man whose criminal actions have “increased” since his first conviction has been jailed for 16 years for his involvement in an aggravated burglary in St George in 2011.
“The court feels satisfied that this was an act which so terrorized the complainant who was a relatively elderly woman at the time,” Madam Justice Jacqueline Cornelius said as she delivered the sentence on Corey Omar McDonald Noel in Supreme Court No. 5A yesterday.
In February last year a nine-member jury found Noel, of Joes River, guilty of entering the home of Virginia Challenor as a trespasser while brandishing a sword and stealing $157 in cash, a pair of earrings worth $100, a chain worth $150, a pendant worth $500, two rings worth $10,150 belonging to her as well as two shotguns worth $12,000 and 100 rounds of ammunition belonging to George Challenor on December 8, 2011. He was 29 years old at the time.
“The aggravating factors in this matter are grave,” the judge stated adding that the homeowner was at her residence when her property was targeted. “The high value of items stolen including firearms and ammunition, the ransacking of the house and the fact that the householder was terrorized and beaten even though you did not actually beat the householder.
“In fact this offence shows an increase in the seriousness of your offending from your first conviction for a similar type of offence. Mitigating factors for the offence is the fact that you did not inflict any injury on on Ms Challenor and you were initially cooperative with the police,” Justice Cornelius said.
She said the court felt “satisfied” that a starting point of 12 years in prison was an appropriate sentence for aggravated burglary of this kind.
However, she said mitigating to Noel as an offender was the fact that nine character witnesses from his community considered him helpful and mannerly and that he has “some indication of psychological difficulties” though not such as would give him excuse for his actions.
Aggravating to him she said was his poor probation report which placed him at a medium to high risk of reoffending, as well as “Your utter lack of appreciation of the gravity of your actions; your previous conviction for burglary for which you spent considerable time in prison and I might add, for which you had been released only a relatively short period before your arrest in this matter and your marijuana and alcohol use.”
The judge however took into consideration the “extremely long time” that the convict spent on remand in connection with the crime “which is unusual even in our courts”, the delay in bringing his case to trial and the protracted sentencing hearing. This, she said, was not entirely due to the court but also on Noel’s part since his character witnesses were difficult to locate.
Given those factors, she decreased the 12-year sentence by a year and then increased it by five years, given the aggravating and mitigating factors of the offence. This gave Noel a sentence of 16 years.
From that he was credited for the 2,842 days he had spent on remand.
This means that as of Tuesday, February 11, Noel had 3,002 days or eight years and 82 days left to serve at Dodds.
The burglar was also ordered to enroll in an anger management or rehabilitative programme offered at the prison. “The court hopes that you would use your time at the prison to consider your past and endeavour to do better on your release.”
When asked whether he understood the sentence Noel answered: “No ma’am.”
The judge repeated the ruling and addressed other issues that he claimed had not been taken into account in the sentence.
She then asked Noel again whether he understood the ruling, he responded: “Well Ma’am I still don’t understand because last time I was suppose to come before you, I was suppose to finish my mitigation when I come back and this is the first time I get back before you . . . and two character witnesses was suppose to get find also.”
The judge explained that efforts by the court to assist Noel with the remaining two-character witnesses proved futile.
She further stated that she believed that he had finished his mitigation but she was prepared to vacate the setence and listen to his additional submissions.
Despite informing him of that process several times and telling him go ahead as well as getting the help of a defence attorney to explain it to him, Noel did not put anything substantial before the judge which resulted in a stay of the sentence.
Noel said he will appeal the case.