Two hit with six and two years, juvenile gets probation
Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer
Three of the four defendants, who were charged in the much-publicised Mount Alvernia Preparatory School kidnapping case were sentenced to a combined total of eight years in the St James Circuit Court yesterday.
However, while 23-year-old cabinetmaker Jonathan Mitchell of Spaldings, Manchester; and 22-year-old barber Trevon Tomlinson of Cornwall Courts, Montego Bay, were sentenced to six and two years, respectively, the juvenile, who, like them, had pleaded guilty to child-stealing, escaped with three years of probation.
The fourth accused in the case, 26-year-old Jenise Regisford, a counsellor based in the United States, had pleaded not guilty to the original charges of kidnapping, conspiracy to kidnap and conspiracy to extort, and is to stand trial on December 4 in the 'remnant session' of the circuit court.
The trio, who were sentenced yesterday, had pleaded guilty to child-stealing when they appeared in the St James Circuit Court on September 24. Their sentences were reserved until yesterday.
For her part, Regisford had told the court that she was unaware that the child was being kidnapped when he was taken away from the school and transported to Manchester, where he was subsequently rescued by the police and reunited with his family.
The original charges stemmed from the abduction of the child on the afternoon May 3, 2011. He was reportedly taken while waiting to be picked up by his parents.
CHANGE OF PLEAS
In the aftermath of the child's rescue, the four accused were arrested and charged. Initially, all four had pleaded not guilty, but subsequently, Tomlinson, Mitchell and the juvenile changed their pleas to guilty of child-stealing.
Under local law, the maximum sentence for kidnapping is life imprisonment, whereas child-stealing carries a maximum sentence of seven years' imprisonment.
Lead prosecutor Jeremy Taylor, in recounting the facts of the case to the court, noted that Mitchell had previously been employed by the child's father.
Despite having his pastor Ewen Granville, of the Mt Zion House of Israel, giving character evidence on his behalf, Mitchell got just one year short of the maximum sentence of seven years.
"The maximum sentence is seven years and you are not getting less than six," High Court judge Martin Gayle told Mitchell in passing sentence on him.