The case of a convicted man who opted to face a jury has prompted the trial judge to warn the accused they risk jail sentences by taking their chances needlessly on a jury trial when they know they’re guilty.
Justice Carlisle Greaves delivered the warning on Wednesday as he remanded Nakimo Kenyatta Skeete to prison for sentencing after a jury found him guilty of assault nearly a decade ago.
Skeete, previously of Hindsbury Road, St Michael but who now resides in St Philip went on trial on Monday before Justice Greaves and a nine-member jury after pleading not guilty to a charge of assaulting Jerome Collins on January 22, 2013 with intent to rob him.
After more than an hour of deliberations the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict for Skeete in the No. 3 Supreme Court.
The prosecutor, Acting Senior Crown Counsel Rudolph Burnett, did not object to bail despite the conviction.
Burnett said his decision was based on Skeete’s own testimony from the dock during his defence that he was a father of a newborn baby, married, was gainfully employed, was also an employer and had a mortgage.
“We are no longer living in normal times and I could not find it possible to ask at this time that this now convicted man be remanded, I would ask that his bail be continued,” Burnett said.
Skeete’s attorney, Mohia Ma’at, said that given his client’s clean record, “a married man, mortgage, now had a baby… in most cases it is unlikely that a custodial sentence would be imposed”.
But Justice Greaves was unimpressed. He declared: “What? ‘Unlikely.’ What would make you say so?” Ma’at responded that no weapon was used in the commission of the crime and this was Skeete’s first offence.
But the judge said that the now convicted man had opted to go on trial.
Greaves said: “I keep warning you all about that. He came in here and had a trial and you expect him to get the same thing that a man comes in here and throws in the towel on, that is unlikely.”
The judge explained that these were the type of cases that the defence approaches the prosecutor and see if a deal could be reached.
“But you don’t come in here, take up the taxpayers’ money and go to trial hoping for the best and don’t consider what the worst is. This is the kind of case . . . you come in here, you know you are guilty and you throw yourself at the mercy of the court,” he said.
“Too many of you fellas exposing yourselves to jail in this jurisdiction, too many. A lot of these cases that you all are going to trial with, you should not be going to trial with. You should come… and beg for some mercy.
“We can’t try all, we have hundreds of thousands of cases to try. So we have to be merciful in a lot of cases; this is the reality.”
This is why accused persons on gun possession charges were being sentenced to pay hefty fines while other such cases go to trial, said the judge.
He further explained that in cases like Skeete’s and wounding cases, alternative sentences could be considered to meet the justice of the offences.
“But you come in here, take up the taxpayers’ time and money, and try it and tell me wunna ain’t going jail, mekking sport,” declared Justice Greaves.
“If we keep doing that . . . then everybody will come in here looking for a trial to get a chance and we will never get rid of this backlog and the serious offenders will be running about . . .giving real trouble.”
Skeete, who shook his head at hearing the verdict and at times bowed his head, was remanded to Dodds to reappear in court on October 29 when the sentencing phase of his case will begin. A presentencing report has been ordered.