Shakira Cu’Shan Prescott will spend seven more years in prison for inflicting a single stab to the chest of her 20-year-old boyfriend Sham Alleyne, which ended his life two years ago.
Before she learned her fate, she apologised to Alleyne’s family, her own relatives and the court for her “careless actions”, insisting that it was never her intent to kill the man she loved.
“To the man I once loved, Sham Elijah Alleyne, I am very sorry. An action that was not meant or intended for harm will reflect the circumstances that were unfolding in the moment. Having reflected on my actions, I am forced to become a better person to one and all,” she said tearfully in Supreme Court No. 3 on Friday.
She was given a starting sentence of 15 years, but after Justice Carlisle Greaves took into consideration the aggravating and mitigating features of the case, the time she had spent on remand, and her early guilty plea, that time was reduced to seven years.
Prescott had pleaded not guilty to murdering Alleyne but guilty to manslaughter in his stabbing death, which occurred in her White Hill, St Andrew neighbourhood on December 29, 2021.
Senior State Counsel Neville Watson outlined to the court evidence from witnesses who said that Alleyne had been outside sitting on a neighbour’s step chatting with a male friend when Prescott walked up and pushed and hit him in his shoulder and chest while accusing him of cheating on her. The two continued quarrelling as she followed him between the houses toward her home, and then when they returned and walked in the direction of the main road. Moments later, Alleyne ran back, clutching his chest, saying that Prescott had stabbed him.
According to the prosecutor, Alleyne collapsed in front of his friend. One male witness said they saw Prescott standing in the doorway of a nearby house with blood on her dress and a pair of scissors between her breasts. She headed to where Alleyne had fallen, checked his pulse and tried to resuscitate him by performing CPR but left the scene when the ambulance arrived.
Another witness had said he invited Alleyne into his home to get away from the argument but he went back outside minutes later and continued arguing with Prescott before she slapped and kicked him, put him into a headlock, and then pulled scissors from between her breasts and stabbed him once in the chest.
However, in her statement to the police, Prescott said the argument started when she had messaged Alleyne to bring over her shirt, which he dropped on the ground outside of her house. She went outside with scissors and a joint and started arguing with him, and they began pushing one another. The woman said Alleyne went into a neighbour’s house, and she took up his slippers and headed back home and Alleyne followed. She walked into her bedroom, but after she came back out and saw her boyfriend had cut up her slippers, she went outside to confront him about it, telling him she had cut up his as well. Prescott said she asked Alleyne, who was smoking a joint at the time, for $100 he owed her and he refused, pushed her, hit her several times about her head, and she fell. Grabbing the scissors which had fallen to the ground, she stabbed him once “so that he would stop cuffing me”. Prescott said Alleyne ran off and she ran into the house as she believed he had gone to find something to retaliate with.
She said it was only when his brothers came to tell her he was lying on the ground that she left the house. After checking his pulse, Prescott said, she told people who had gathered to bring Alcolado for him to smell and to rub on his forehead. She went home as the crowd started arguing with her about her actions. She returned to check on him again and went home once more before a friend called to say he had died. She then went to the police station with a neighbour.
A post-mortem report showed that Alleyne died due to haemorrhagic shock due to a single stab wound.
Outlining the aggravating factors, Watson said the now-convicted woman was the aggressor in the matter, she had been armed in advance with a dangerous weapon, the deceased was unarmed, and the offence was violent. He also pointed to the deleterious impact the act had on Alleyne’s family.
He said the only mitigating factor was Prescott’s attempt to provide first aid, and suggested a starting point of 24 years in prison, minus two years taking into consideration her assistance of the police and expression of remorse. With the one-third discount for her early guilty plea and the 1 043 days spent on remand also taken into account, Watson submitted that a sentence of 11 years and eight months behind bars would do justice in the case.
Pointing out that several witnesses, including Alleyne’s mother, indicated that the relationship between the two was often combative, defence attorney Sian Lange said the evidence shows a relationship characterised by violence and arguments.
She argued that this had to be taken into consideration when looking at the mitigating factors. The attorney asserted that Prescott could not be considered the lone aggressor as Alleyne had been pulled out of the fight but chose to head back outside to continue it.
She also said several witnesses had testified that Prescott often carried around the scissors to cut up marijuana, and, therefore, it was not a case of her being armed in advance as suggested by the prosecution.
Lange also highlighted that her client had tried to give Alleyne first aid but stopped when people in the neighbourhood began quarrelling with her for stabbing him.
She recommended a starting point of 15 years for the offence, deducting three years due to her not having any previous convictions, her cooperation with the police, her early guilty plea and her expression of remorse.
Lange submitted a sentence of five years and two months.
In handing down his ruling, Justice Greaves said: “I find and accept that even though she delivered the stab wound to the now deceased man, there was no intention to kill him because, had there been, the conviction would have been for murder.
“There was an intention or recklessness as to the nature of the injury she would inflict, but it could not be said that there was an intention really to inflict serious injury in the circumstances. Her conduct, one, with a single stab wound, tends to support that, and two, her attempt to apply resuscitation to him tends to indicate some remorse and regret about her actions.”
Mitigating in her favour, Justice Greaves said, was the fact that she had no previous convictions, her contrition and the fact that she cooperated with the police. An aggravating factor was her presentence report, which illustrated a moderate to high risk of re-offending.
After crediting Prescott for the early guilty plea and time on remand, he told her she had seven years and two months to spend behind bars.
“Life is fragile. He has gone to the grave, you have gone to jail, and what started it? A pair of slippers. Sometimes we really have to stop and see where little material things can drive us into the abyss,” Justice Greaves asserted.