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A 56-year-old man, who confessed to attempting to murder his ex-girlfriend after she left him in 2010, was sentenced to life in prison on Monday.
High Court Judge Carla Brown-Antoine gave Vernon James the maximum penalty when she sentenced him.
Brown-Antoine said: “The court is of the view that if this prisoner is released, he may once again harm the virtual complainant. His intention at the time of the incident was to kill her. He did not achieve his aim but the court fears that if released he will bring it to pass.”
As James only decided to plead guilty to the charge after State prosecutors completed their evidence in his trial in May, Brown-Antoine waived the one third discount on sentences afforded to accused who plead guilty to crimes.
She added, “The plea did not prevent the victim and the other eyewitnesses for the State from the trauma of testifying and reliving this horrific incident.”
Brown-Antoine also did not deduct the seven years he spent on remand awaiting trial and ordered that he not be considered for release until he has served 20 years.
Brown-Antoine said the harsh sentence should be a deterrent to potential domestic abuse offenders.
She added, “Persons in relationships that have ended must be deterred from thinking that they must punish their partners for ending the relationship.”
James’ victim, who Brown-Antoine ordered the media not to identify, was present in court for the hearing and sat behind him in the public gallery during the sentencing.
While James did not make eye contact with the victim during the hearing and as he was being led away by police, she starred directly at him throughout.
In James’ absence, the victim later briefly thanked the court for the outcome.
“Thank you (Brown-Antoine) and everybody involved for justice.”
According to the evidence in the case, the attack took place at the victim’s home at Saddle Road, San Juan, on February 18, 2010.
The woman testified that she had received threats from James after their relationship ended in May 2009, including on the morning of the incident. The woman was getting ready to leave home to report the threats to police, when James arrived.
Armed with a cutlass, James dragged her from her porch and into the yard, where he chopped her several times before disposing of the weapon by throwing it over the wall. By the time the woman’s daughter and son-in-law heard her screams and rushed to her assistance, James had already fled the scene. Her injuries included chops wounds to her hands, arms and legs, as well as a severed finger, which were all deemed non-life threatening.
James was arrested later that evening. When confronted by police over the attack, James said: “Boss, ah real love that woman.”
The woman was hospitalised for three weeks and was forced to quit her job in the Fire Service upon her release as she was deemed disabled. She has also been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
While James accepted her version of the events when he offered to plead guilty during his trial, he gave a completely different account to a prisons officer who produced a bio-social report for his sentencing.
James claimed the relationship continued past May 2009 and on the day of the incident he went to the woman’s home and caught her performing oral sex on a man. James claimed he attacked the man with the cutlass and the victim was injured in the process.
Brown-Antoine held that James’ story was implausible and filled with inconsistencies, while she ruled that the medical evidence corroborated the victim’s version.
JUSTICE CARLA BROWN-ANTOINE