By FARRAH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A PREGNANT woman who admitted to hitting a teenager with her car earlier this week was sentenced to six months in prison in Magistrates Court yesterday.
Tiffany Johnson, 23, appeared before Senior Magistrate Carolyn Vogt-Evans charged with assault with a dangerous instrument and causing harm, after she was accused of assaulting and injuring a 17-year-old boy with her vehicle on July 20.
During her hearing, Johnson, who is four months’ pregnant, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services for count one and three months at BDCS for count two. Both sentences were ordered to run concurrently.
The court heard the teen was walking in the Nassau Village area when a woman drove her vehicle in his direction. The prosecution said although the teen managed to jump out of the way, he still got hit by the car which resulted in him sustaining minor injuries. As a result, the boy and his mother requested police action. An investigation into the matter led to Johnson’s arrest. During an interview with police, she admitted to seeing the teen when she was driving her car on the day in question, but denied knocking him down.
When given an opportunity to speak, Johnson told the magistrate the teen had gotten in front of her car and thrown a rock at her windshield that day. She also said she tried to go to the complainant’s father’s house to tell him what had happened, but he wasn’t home. Johnson claimed by the time she got to the police station to report the matter, the teen and his mother were already there so they “locked her up.” When asked how she knew the complainant, Johnson explained that she was friends with the teen’s sister. She said the two of them had a disagreement in the past and “were going to have a fight,” but were able to settle their differences.
Still, Johnson said despite the fact they had made up, the 17-year-old would still throw jeers at her every time they saw each other. Johnson said she had filed an official complaint against the teen for his actions before, but never went back to check on the progress of the matters.
Still, after Johnson presented her plea in mitigation, the prosecution told the magistrate that the officers’ investigation into the incident proved that Johnson’s assertions were “unfounded”.
As a result, after sentencing the defendant, Magistrate Vogt-Evans told her the reason she was given a custodial sentence was because she committed a “serious offense”. She also told Johnson while she sympathised with her pregnancy, she had an opportunity to report the most recent alleged assault and follow up on previously filed police reports.
“It is clear the defendant turned her vehicle around to deal with the virtual complainant who allegedly threw a rock at her windshield,” she said. “She took matters into her own hands (and) the court notes the increased occurrences of vigilante justice in the country which is causing a continuous cycle of revenge. The court must be clear that it will not tolerate any form of vigilante justice. The defendant had the opportunity to do the right thing.”