Self defense or murder? A woman’s life is only worth five years in jail.

UPDATED: February 11, 2012

Our Director of Public Prosecutions, Charles Leacock, has a record for going easy on killers of women. We’d like to see a list drawn up that features the worst of his deal-making during sentencing. The DPP’s motto seems to be “Anything to avoid a murder trial”. By now the word must be out there in the criminal world that nobody ever gets convicted of murder in Barbados: you can always do a deal.

Here’s a previous incident, but we wonder how many slip by. Feel free to list some of the other incidents that come to mind…

Barbados Chief Prosecutor: Woman “provoked” her killer by refusing sex, therefore not murder.

The Nation on Tuesday Feb 7th : “Man who killed ex-girlfriend put away for five years”.

I am wondering if there has been any discussion or outrage about this, and I have missed it. It just seems outrageous that the convicted man claims a very suspect situation to be self-defense and has been taken at his word. That the court sees fit to sentence this man to mere 5 years (which in prison time is not actually) is maddening to me! I’m sure this woman, Sonia Phillips’, family is being punished all over again at this injustice.

At the same time we are all discussing Raul Garcia who got 15 years for his offense. So if this murderer had weed in his possession at the time, he would get more time for the weed than for killing this woman?

It seems in this system a woman’s life is worth a lot less than a shipment of drugs. This is outrageous!!

I hope more people speak out about this, not just for women, but for all the murder victims in Barbados whose killers get insultingly low sentences. I speak from tragically personal experience on this issue.

Thank you for your time, and please help me speak out about this issue.

Name provided, withheld by BFP editor


Filed under Crime & Law, Culture & Race Issues, Human Rights

12 responses to “Self defense or murder? A woman’s life is only worth five years in jail.

  1. robert ross

    The Nation reports that the accused pleaded guilty to ‘unlawful killing’ which I assume means manslaughter. It also states that the judge held that there were elements of self-defence and provocation.
    I don’t know the background to this but it rather sounds as if this is one of those cases where the accused was offered the opportunity to plead guilty to manslaughter rather than face a murder charge. The DPP is rather fond of those kind of deals. Here there were no witnesses to the killing BUT given the extent of the victim’s wounds (as reported) it sounds as if a murder charge would have been sustainable whether the killing was premeditated or not. This was seemingly a case where the accused deliberately used the knife on the victim to devastating effect albeit in the agony of the moment. It was not simply that his unlawful act caused her death – that is, a case where all reasonable people would conclude that what he did unlawfully would result in some harm though not serious harm. The harm inflicted was manifestly serious and deliberate and so a murder charge was the inexorable consequence given that the accused admitted “jucking and slashing at she”.
    Once he had the knife and used it – at least if the girl was then defenceless and the serious danger to him was over – the defence of self-defence was a non-starter because the quantum of force he used was unreasonable. On a murder charge the defence of self-defence is all or nothing – there is no room for a defence of ‘I thought I needed to act in self-defence even though the force I used was unreasonable’. On a manslaughter charge, self-defence would go to mitigation and this even though the defence would not be sustainable had the charge been murder – as here seemingly. Provocation is only a defence to a murder charge, but again it may serve to mitigate the penalty on a charge of manslaughter – and there would be no need for the accused to raise (though not prove) the basic rudiments of the defence. This is why, I suppose, the judge referred to there being “some element” of both provocation and self-defence.
    Barbadian law does not recognise the ‘crime of passion’ and I can well understand why the writer is concerned. On the face of it, the appropriate charge was clearly murder. Without more, I have no idea whether provocation would have been sustainable; but it is very doubtful indeed whether self-defence would have been. So we are left with the decision to proceed on the basis of a ‘guilty of manslaughter’ plea. The sentencing judge was stuck with that. Whether a sentence of five years (allowing for the period on remand) was reasonable would depend on the nature of all the evidence which he heard – and the newspaper report is thin on that. It is the kind of sentence you find in similar cases in other jurisdictions and no doubt the judge remembered the prophet Micah and tempered his justice with mercy.
    I would not blame him. But, as I said earlier, if we want to point fingers then it has to be the DPP’s Office which was prepared to offer the manslaughter deal in the first place – if that was what happened. Perhaps Mr Khan will enlighten us. There was a recent murder case when three accused charged with murder were offered the opportunity of pleading guilty to wounding with intent. One agreed to do so and was duly convicted – and then released. The others were charged with murder though the evidence was that they were not the actual perpetrators of the killing. The Barbadian jury – to its eternal credit – found them not guilty.

  2. Anonymous

    If your son’s life is only worth $24BDS and community service what do you expect

  3. vexx as *****!!!!

    Bajans take things like this – these inconsistent and non-sensicle decisions made by Barbadian jurists – way too lightly.

    A prison year I believe is actually nine months when good behaviour is factored in, meaning five years would actually be 45 months which works out to under four years in prison!

    A woman lost her life and this is the best a judge can do?!

    Even cases of vehicular manslaughter have seen greater sentences than this.

    But why should we be surprised as there are instances in Barbados where poor offenders (and I emphasis poor) have received more time in prison for having a single bullet, than persons who actually had loaded guns which they used to commit crimes!

    Jerry Emptage and all those engineers who would have contributed directly to the collapse and hence the unnecessary deaths at Arch Cot will also get away without seeing the inside of a prison! Probably a slap on the wrists and ordered to pay $$$ which they have plenty of.

    The Barbados justice and penal system – what a joke!!!

  4. just want to know

    A persons life in our country is worth nothing, let it be money and you will see how many years will be given, (unless you are a CLICO multi millionaire}, and a friend of politicians.

  5. Newbie

    This is what happens when the LAW IS AN ASS!! and it can be bought and sold by those with money.

    Vexx as F**K, It has gone way beyond a joke.

  6. 65

    The justice system in Barbados is corrupt and the the DPP is its biggest fraud

  7. wait

    But wait, isn’t this Christian Barbados built on Christian values and principles? Will you blame the Moslem infiltration of Barbados for this?

    Every day pathetic BFP issues articles about the ills of Barbados. The same Barbados they say is built on Christian values and which is threatened by a handful of Moslems. Where does the logic lie?

  8. robert ross

    @ Wait……..

    But wait, Wait, as “pathetic’ as the posts are here, nothing new in that, the perceived terrors of Islam are not the subject of the discussion. Are you saying that the ‘hard nosed’ here are betraying Christian principles? That would be a relevant and fair point given the level of sensitivity of almost everything that has been written. Remember that BFP posted the comment submitted by someone who was upset by the sentence. – and, surely, the ‘upset’ is understandable; which is why, deep in the night, I tried to unravel it all – not that anyone is likely to have read much of it if the comment following mine is any guide.

  9. A B

    I think it definitely is a problem originating with the DPP. The judge can only sentence according to the charge, and can’t exceed the maximum prison term for that specific crime. So we need to start with the DPP, because all too often these plea deals are handed out. I don’t remember any time recently someone being charged and going to trial for murder. By the time it gets to trial they have plead to a lesser charge and that’s where these pathetic sentences come from.

    Another case that comes to mind is the Canadian tourist that was killed on Long Beach. Her killer was also charged with manslaughter.

    Even though there was no provocation, no “crime of passion”, no excuse whatsoever for that killing, he was inexplicably not charged with murder. His sentence was 12 years I believe (I stand to be corrected on the exact number). There was some outcry in the press about that, mainly because it also received negative publicity in Canadian newspapers.

    This cannot be seen as just a women’s issue either. This happens whether the victim is male or female.

    In a system that hands down such harsh penalties for other crimes, we need to punish murder, rape, domestic abuse, child molestation more severely. Drug dealers spend more time in prison than rapist and murderers. And this is outrageous! It is a gross insult to the families that have lost a valued family member, to say that that person’s life is only worth 5 or 12 years of this murderer’s freedom is disgusting and MUST change.

    We must continue to speak out, this can’t be one of those topics that Bajans sit idly by and watch happen time and time again.

  10. Outraged

    If ever there was good reason to replace the current DPP this case was a classic example. Not only have there been repeated instances where manslaughter guilty pleas have been routinely accepted by the DPP in cases where a murder conviction would be almost certain, but on the other end some of these sentences by judges have been bordering on the ridiculous.

    Why is this allowed to continue? I’ve seen longer sentences for gun possession and drug possession. Surely the taking of a life should rank higher in the grand scheme of things. In prison years that five years will be virtually over in just over three years – what sheer madness! The minimum sentence he should have received is 15 years. I fear this will set a serious precedent in our legal system – where is the justice?

  11. Curious Jane

    Does anyone know if there is an truth to the rumour of Charles Leacock being dead?