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Slap on the wrist? - Former cop fined after wounding conviction

Published:Wednesday | May 11, 2016 | 5:00 AMLivern Barrett

A former police constable who was found guilty of shooting a bartender, then cutting himself with a machete to bolster his claim that she attacked him, was sentenced by a Gun Court judge to fines totalling $300,000.

Joseph Stanley, who was a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force at the time of the incident, was fined $200,000 for wounding with intent and $100,000 for shooting with intent following his conviction in the Gun Court last Wednesday, his attorney confirmed yesterday.

Attorney-at-law Donald Bryan said his client has also been barred from holding a firearm licence for three years and would have to serve a two-year prison sentence if the fines are not paid.

However, the sentence handed down by Justice Lennox Campbell has caused some disquiet in legal circles, with critics pointing to the provisions of the Offences Against the Person Act.

Section 20, Subsection Two of the legislation stipulates that "a person who is convicted before a Circuit Court of (a) shooting with intent to do grievous bodily harm or with intent to resist or prevent the lawful apprehension or detainer of any person or (b) wounding with intent, with use of a firearm, shall be liable to imprisonment for life, or such other term, not being less than 15 years as the court considers appropriate".

LENGTHY DELAY

Gleaner sources say in handing down his sentence, Campbell indicated that he took into consideration the fact that the case had been hanging over the former constable for seven years and blasted the State for the lengthy delay in commencing the trial.

Despite this, one attorney, who spoke on condition of anonymity, called the sentence "a bad decision".

Another attorney, however, defended Campbell, arguing that his powers should never be fettered.

Noted criminal-defence attorney Peter Champagnie declined to comment on the propriety of the punishment meted out to Stanley, but said it raises questions about sentencing protocol and whether judges should be given absolute discretion.

In June last year, the same judge sentenced former police Constable Sherwood Simpson to 15 years in prison for wounding with intent and five years for shooting with intent.

Simpson was among four men who took a male passenger off a minibus in 2013 and forced him into a bushy area in St Mary where they shot him. The man managed to escape, but Simpson and his accomplices found him and shot him again, this time in the head.

INCIDENT IN THE BAR

In the case against Stanley, prosecutors led evidence that some time in 2009, Stanley went to a bar in St Andrew and ordered drinks for himself and a friend.

Soon afterwards, according to prosecutors, he got into an argument with the bartender, then went around the counter and used his service weapon to shoot her near the buttocks.

Bryan said the Crown also led evidence that Stanley used a machete to chop himself on the arm, near his elbow, to support his account that he fired his weapon after the woman attacked him.

"That was what the prosecution alleged and that's what the court found," he said, adding that the complainant demonstrated in court how Stanley used the machete to chop himself.

The attorney said his client insisted, throughout the trial, that the shooting was a case of self-defence because the bartender attacked him with a machete.

Bryan told The Gleaner he had no comment on the sentence imposed on his client.

"That's the prerogative of the court. I don't want to get into that," he said.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com