The three former Princess Margaret Secondary School students whose bullying resulted in the death of a fellow student more than ten years ago will likely have to pay compensation rather than face jail for their actions.
The prosecution has supported a proposal from presiding Justice Randall Worrell that the three young people should be ordered to pay the victim’s family considering they were minors at the time of the crime.
Before making a final decision on sentencing in a virtual hearing in the No. 2 Supreme Court today, Justice Worrell adjourned the matter until August 17, to allow the parents of 11-year-old deceased Ian Elroy Gibson to be present and to get the consent of the accused.
Attorneys for Maria Goddard, Donika Alleyne and Shaquille Bradshaw who were found guilty of unlawfully killing Gibson in a 2009 incident that resulted from bullying, also supported the option of compensation rather than incarceration.
While the idea of a non-custodial sentence had been previously suggested by Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Alliston Seale during an address to the court, it was today that Justice Worrell took the suggestion even further when he proposed a sum of $50,000 and any other award the court may decide in a final ruling.
The rationale behind the option of compensation is that the convicts were children at the time of the crime and would have normally been tried as juveniles had the crime not been a capital offence.
The deceased was involved in a collision with a car driven by Gian Holder on Sunbury Road, St Philip on September 18 and died two days later at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) from the injuries he sustained.
At the time he was in an altercation with Bradshaw and Alleyne both of Balls Land, Christ Church and Goddard of Parish Land C, Balls Land, Christ Church. They ranged between ages 12 and 14 at the time.
“If the court determines that this matter is not to be dealt with by way of a custodial sentence, the question that has to be asked as far as this court is concerned is what kind of justice is that going to look like to the family of this deceased man,” Judge asked.
“I would have thought, since all of the pre-sentencing reports clearly indicate that these are persons who have probably gone on with their lives now nearly in excess of ten years or more in certain instances…working et cetera, contributing to society, I think counsel that you need to explore the possibility
“…This was raised by Mr Seale and I didn’t hear anybody pick up on it…of them having to compensate the family of the deceased,” he added.
“And the court is thinking that…with the father especially, who is someone who would have gone to court, I think nearly every day when the matter was in the Magistrates’ Court for a long period, I think that it can only be fair and reasonable to expect that a sum, – and this court is of the opinion that a sum of no less than $50,000 – that they be made to contribute that sum by way of compensation,” Justice Worrell declared.
He then asked the defense attorneys Arthur Holder and Angella Mitchell Gittens to find out from their clients if between the three of them if they are willing to have a compensatory award made in this case in addition to whatever award may be made by the court.
“But obviously it would have to be done by way of their consent.
“We have not moved along the times as such, that the court can immediately make that award without any reference to them,” Justice Worrell stated.
“If Mr Seale is against it – don’t mind he had mooted it at first – I am not sure if the figure is a figure he may be in line with, but that is basically the court’s feeling at this stage and some kind of combination order then can be made as far as the court is concerned,” said the presiding judge.
While supporting the judge’s position, Seale also reasoned that he was not in favour of imprisonment because he did not want to make criminals of the three young people who he emphasized were children at the time and that their bullying was something systemic across schools in Barbados.
However, he insisted that the court should still mete out a sentence which was not too harsh or not too lenient to cause the victim’s family to feel justice was not served for their child’s tragic death.
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