By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
TWO men, previously sentenced to a decade in prison for attempting to murder another man in 2012, yesterday had their prison time increased by 15 years after the Crown successfully appealed their “unduly lenient” sentences.
Appellate Justices Stella Crane-Scott, Roy Jones and Milton Evans substituted a sentence of 25 years for Vilner Desir and Delano Taylor after allowing the Crown’s appeal of a Supreme Court judge’s ruling concerning the attempted murder of Jefferson Pierre Louis on March 22, 2012.
According to the facts, Louis was standing at the front of Tom’s Bar, Quakoo Street on the date in question when three men walked past him. After doing so, however, the three men then turned in his direction and started shooting at him.
After realising that he had been struck in his neck, Louis ran towards East Street. As he was running he noticed that the other men were following him and that they all had handguns. He also noticed they were firing at him.
Louis “blacked out” on East Street, and woke up in hospital. He was treated for gunshot injuries to the right shoulder and neck. On June 15, 2012, Louis identified Desir and Taylor as two of the men who shot at him.
Desir and Taylor were convicted on November 3, 2014 by a Supreme Court jury, and consequently sentenced to 10 years in prison on January 21, 2015, with 18 months to be deducted for the time spent on remand.
Yesterday, Crown prosecutor Kendra Kelly submitted that the trial judge, Senior Justice Vera Watkins, failed to attach sufficient weight to the facts of the case and consequently passed an unduly lenient sentence on the two.
Another issue raised was whether the trial judge went outside the normal sentencing range for such an offence, which Ms Kelly submitted is between 30 to 60 years. Thus, Ms Kelly asked for a sentence of at least 25 years to be substituted.
Desir’s attorney Christina Galanos submitted in response that while the Crown outlined what it felt was an appropriate sentence in the appellate court, it did not mention any sentencing range when the opportunity arose for it do so in response to Desir’s plea in mitigation in the lower court.
Ms Galanos also outlined several cases where Supreme Court judges did not sentence the respective convicts within the 30-60 year range, and the Crown did not appeal the sentence.
Nonetheless, Justice Crane-Scott noted, in concurrence with the Crown’s submissions, that nowhere in the trial judge’s ruling is an assessment of the seriousness of the offence, which she said was an “unprovoked attack” by three men, who were all wielding guns.
Justice Crane-Scott also said the trial judge seemed “overpowered” by the personal circumstances of the accused outlined in their respective probation reports, but stated that consideration of those circumstances comes after an appreciation of the facts of the case and the seriousness of the offence.
The appellate court thus allowed the Crown’s appeal against the sentences of both men, and imposed a 25-year sentence set to run from the date of conviction and minus the time spent on remand.