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Some Jamaicans opposed to sentence-reduction initiative

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, December 15, 2017

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Some Jamaicans believe that criminals who plead guilty to heinous crimes should not benefit from the Sentence Reduction Programme today.

In fact, they pointed to Phillip Brown, who admitted to killing his pregnant girlfriend while she was asleep last December at their Crystal Towers apartment.

The Sentence Reduction Day initiative provides the platform for individuals to enter a guilty plea and benefit from a maximum 50 per cent reduction in their sentence, according to the provisions of the Criminal Justice Administration Amendment Act 2015.

The programme, which had its first instalment on May 22, is being implemented by the Criminal Case Management Steering Committee, which has as its mandate the implementation of policies and strategies that are geared towards the administration of justice in a timely manner in all the courts.

In October, Brown pleaded guilty to the murder of 31-year-old Kerry-Ann Wilson, who was reportedly beaten to death and her body found wrapped in a tarpaulin after he tried to dispose of it.

Prior to Brown's plea, the prosecution argued that Wilson was three months' pregnant at the time of her demise, and that Brown admitted in his eight-page caution statement that he was asking her to return to the home they shared.

At the time of Wilson's death she was no longer living at the premises, but went there to comb their child's hair and had fallen asleep when a hammer was used to crack her skull.

It was also revealed that before the killing Brown said: “Why are you doing this to me? I can't take this anymore. I can't live like this.”

According to Brown's statement, he saw a hammer on the balcony and said to himself, “No, Phillip.” He started to walk back and forth and said “No”.

Nonetheless, he took the hammer up and it slipped out of his hand, according to his statement.

The court was told that the post-mortem revealed that Wilson died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Brown's attorney, Anthony Williams, told the Observer on Tuesday that there is a possibility that his client could be sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment instead of 25 to 30 years.

“How can you benefit from something you do wrong? That tarpaulin bredda deh… no man. You just kill the girl because she lef yuh? He should have walked away,” Omar Smith argued on Wednesday.

Smith, who was livid, compared Sentence Reduction Day Programme to going to a store and getting a 50 per cent discount on an item.

Like Smith, Priscilla Baker is of the view that Brown should get the maximum sentence.

“I don't think Phillip Brown and the woman who stole the baby should get a lesser sentence. If it was my sister I would want him to pay the full penalty, because to just take a life like that because she stop loving you, that is just selfish. He should not benefit,” Baker told the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday.

The baby snatcher to whom Baker referred was 44-year-old medical assistant Lorna Williams, who stole a day-old baby from the University Hospital of the West Indies last December.

Another man, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, even though he understood the justice system's challenges, he, too, believed that Brown should not benefit from the initiative.

“Under the circumstances, cases like those where it is premeditated murder, they shouldn't really get any kind of sentence reduction, but because of the backlog in the system and because of the way the system is right now, with all of the inefficiency, then we just have to take the bull by the horn and try anything possible to get these cases out of the system,” he said.

In addition to Brown and Williams, a number of convicted individuals who pleaded guilty under the sentence reduction initiative in October are expected to be sentenced today.

Among them is Omar Graham, otherwise called 'Brown Man', of Alexander Road in Kingston, who pleaded guilty to the murder of 76-year-old Barbara Moncrieffe and the injuring of her husband and two others.

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