People must find a way to resolve conflicts that do not involve violence, said Madam Justice Laurie-Ann Smith-Bovell moments before sentencing manslayer Clifton Ricardo Lewis to 13 years behind bars for stabbing Anthony Nurse to death with a pair of scissors on April 29, 2019.
However, after several deductions, including the time he has already spent in custody, the 39-year-old of Stratford Hill, Pinelands, St Michael, was left with two years and 203 days in his prison term.
At the time of the incident, Lewis was in a relationship with Nurse’s sister and the two of them lived at her mother’s home, along with Nurse. Prior to the fatal stabbing, the relationship between the two men had broken down and they no longer spoke to one another.
On the mentioned date, a fight broke out between two female teenage relatives of the men. Nurse and the girls’ mothers tried to stop the brawl. An eyewitness testified that Lewis came out of the house holding a silver object in his hand and walked over to Nurse and they started to fight. During that time, Lewis made stabbing motions at Nurse with the object. Nurse subsequently ran off and was found a little distance away with stab wounds. He was placed in a private vehicle and taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The cause of death was stab wounds to the chest.
Upon arriving at a 13-year starting point for Lewis’ custodial sentence, Justice Smith-Bovell agreed with the submission of Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Alliston Seale SC that there was no evidence of provocation in the case.
“This was a fight between two teenage girls that the adults should have been able to quell. What reason would the accused have to go to that situation armed with scissors? There is no evidence that anyone had any weapons, and there is no doubt that in this case, the scissors was an offensive weapon,” the judge said.
“It is a sad reflection of our society when two teenage girls can be disrespectful towards adults, and resort to fighting and the adults, rather than quell the unruly behaviour, contribute to the melee and affray resulting in the loss of life. How is it that adults going to part a fight between children result in a loss of life?”
She added the element of premeditation in Lewis arming himself, that the offence was conducted in front of several others – including young children – and the number of stab wounds inflicted on Nurse – two of which punctured his right lung and heart – as the other aggravating factors.
Lewis’ attempt to assist his niece was viewed as the lone mitigating factor.
He was deemed to be at moderate to high risk of reoffending. This was considered an aggravating factor and was weighed against his genuine remorse, his full cooperation with the police and his adverse childhood. The starting point of 13 years was reduced by two years.
Considering his early guilty plea discount and the 1 743 days he had already spent on remand, Justice Smith-Bovell informed Lewis that he was left with 933 days in prison.
Nurse’s defence attorney was King’s Counsel Michael Lashley.