Atwell brothers, Antonio Renaldo Devere and Arlong Elroy, were sentenced to 14 years in prison for the stabbing death of 24-year-old Travis Austin over four years ago.
But their guilty pleas, the time they have already spent on remand as well as the mitigating and aggravating factors of the case have left the two Block 3J Culvert Terrace, Haynesville, St James residents, with 1,316 days of that sentence left to be served at Her Majesty’s Prison Dodds.
High Court Judge Randall Worrell has also ordered that the two young manslayers undergo remedial academic instruction at the St Philip penitentiary and enter the drug rehabilitation programme there. The No. 2 Supreme Court will get an update on their progress in 18 months.
The brothers yesterday said they were not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter in Austin’s death, whose lifeless body was discovered on February 4, 2016 in a track at Central Close. Antonio was 19 years old at the time while Arlong was three years older.
They apologised for their actions today moments before Justice Worrell sentenced them.
Antonio said: “I [want] to say to the court and the deceased’s family and the deceased’s mother that I am truly sorry for everything that happen on the 4th of February, 2016. I am truly sorry for what happened on the scene.”
Sitting next to him his older brother Arlong added: “I [want] to say sorry to the deceased’s family for the pain I have caused them and the suffering my actions have caused. I am very sorry for what I have done. It was never my intention to hurt anyone.”
In his ruling the judge pointed out that the deceased, who according to the evidence was a “small time drug dealer”, was stabbed multiple times. He said the fact that a weapon – a scissors – had also been used were all aggravating features. Despite this, he said there was evidence of provocation and self-defence hence the Crown’s decision to accept the pleas of manslaughter from the brothers.
However Worrell said the mitigating features outweighed the aggravating factors against the two as offenders given the fact they were young at the time of the deadly incident and they both had a clean record. He added that even though the convicts did not cooperate with the police at the start of the investigations, they subsequently complied.
Given those factors he moved the starting sentence of 14 years downwards by two years. From that 12 years, a one third discount was credited for their guilty pleas which came by way of a Maximum Sentence Indication (MSI) giving them a prison term of eight years or 2,920 days.
The two convicts have have already spent 1,604 days on remand and this was also deducted leaving them with 1,316 more days left to serve at Dodds.
“Both are responsible for the position for which you find yourself. You are both young, three years apart, but that does not mean that you are to be treated differently,” said the judge.
Justice Worrell added: “It is up to you since you will be in prison to determine how you behave in prison.”
As the two listened via Zoom from prison, Justice Worrell also made several orders, which he said, came as a result of a “disturbing trend” identified in the brothers’ pre-sentencing reports and statements given to police.
“It seems as if pre-secondary education was given to both of you and that has been wasted. That may have caused or led you on a certain path but the second or more troubling one for me was your association with drugs. That seems to be the golden thread running through 99 per cent of pre-sentencing reports.”
The judge went on to say what was even “worse” in the Atwells’ case was that they were basically lagging at home all day and using Fanta.
“You were friends with the same deceased, you buy things from him. But the lack of educational achievement . . . to propel yourself from where you are [is concerning].
“So in the circumstances, since both of you obtained absolutely no certification from school, this court is also going to append to your sentence that you undergo remedial academic instruction at the prison. Since the prison is a CXC examination centre you will utilise the time there so that you can actually enter into whatever subjects you missed . . . . To place you in a position . . . when you leave prison you can be properly rehabilitated into society and make use of the future which you hopefully will have,” the High Court Judge noted.
“The court is also going to ask within 18 months of today’s date that a report be forwarded from the prison on your status there as far as your formal academic instruction is concerned.
“Also the court is going to order you be entered into drug rehabilitation and that too the court will request within 18 months of today’s date to see exactly how you have benefited,” the judge ordered as he closed the case which was prosecuted by Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Alliston Seale.
Attorney-at-law Safiya Moore represented the Atwells.
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