Boy gets youth detention for machete attack

Sint Maarten Courthouse


Source Today Newspaper 

Sjamira Roseburg from Peterson and Sulvaran law office
Sjamira Roseburg from Peterson and Sulvaran law office

GREAT BAY – The Court in First Instance sentenced a 16-year old boy to 9 months of youth detention in the Miss Lalie Center for an attempt to cause someone grievous bodily harm during a massive fight on September 6 outside of the Milton Peters College. The court ruled that there is insufficient evidence for attempted manslaughter an acquitted the boy of that charge.

Of the sentence, 3 months are conditional and the boy has to abide by the guidance of the Court of Guardianship during his 2 years of probation.

The teenager was talkative enough in court, but neither the prosecutor nor the judge believed a word he was saying.

According to the boy, he had gone to school to pick up his cousin and to protect him against the harassment of other boys. When he met his cousin’s tormentors, a fight erupted whereby the boy allegedly used a machete to hit one of his opponents on the head.

According to the defendant it all happened by accident. “I saw the machete on the ground and grabbed it before anybody would get hurt,” he told the court. “When I picked it up I accidentally hit the victim on his head.”

Witnesses told a different story, the court pointed out. One witness said that the boy had brought the machete with him and that had aimed the weapon at his opponent’s neck. The defendant denied this: “I did not bring the machete.”

“I think you are lying,” the prosecutor told the boy. “I think you hit him on purpose.” But the defendant stuck to his story.

Reports from the Court of Guardianship and a psychological report note that the boy is very aggressive and that he provides answers to question he thinks people want to hear.

“You don’t go to school you don’t have a job and you hang out with the wrong people,” the judge admonished the boy.

Asked what he wants to do with his life, the boy said that an uncle would take him to the United States and that he would go to school there.

When the judge asked him about the situation at the Miss Lalie center, the boy got rather explicit. “They don’t have professional staff; there is nobody there who can help me,” he said. “Nobody is paying attention to me.”

Later his attorney Sjamira Roseburg would add that the boy has to spend 23 hours a day in his room and that he even has to eat there. “It’s like being in Pointe Blanche,” the attorney said.

When the prosecutor told the boy that he was not taking his responsibility for what had happened, the youngster shot back: “I am young and I am making mistakes; and I am learning from them.”

The prosecutor said that there is sufficient evidence for attempted manslaughter and for the possession of a weapon on the public road. “We have witness statements and we know that you took the machete to the fight. A witness said that you aimed at the victim’s neck. If you do that you take the significant risk that you are going to kill someone. I have no reason to doubt the witness statements.”

The prosecutor demanded 24 months of youth detention at the Miss Lalie Center, with 6 months suspended and 2 years of probation. Furthermore, the prosecutor wanted the boy to cooperate with a psychological evaluation and have him placed under the supervision of the Court of Guardianship.”

The boy’s attorney wondered how witnesses could have seen what her client did. “They were all fighting,” Sjamira Roseburg said. “From where the weapon came is a mystery. This is an unfortunate chain of events. All my client wanted to do is take his cousin safely home.” Roseburg said that the witnesses presented by the prosecution are unreliable because they are all friends of the victim.

She asked the court to acquit the boy of attempted manslaughter and also of the possession of the weapon. “He held it only for a brief moment.”

The judge did not swallow the boy’s story or the arguments of his attorney. “This was no accident,” he said. “You intentionally hit him and you brought the machete with you. There is however insufficient evidence for attempted manslaughter, because the medical report is not certain that the wound you inflicted could have resulted in death.”

The victim was ‘scalped’ and the judge ruled that this cannot be labeled as grievous bodily harm, for this reason he sentenced the boy for an attempt to cause grievous bodily harm, a lighter qualification of the facts, and for weapons possession.

The judge asked the prosecutor to take a look at the conditions at the Miss Lalie Center.