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Machel to know fate after Carnival
Prosecutor George Busby yesterday told Magistrate Maureen Baboolal-Gafoor that community service was not at option in sentencing soca star Machel Montano.
He said so yesterday shortly after the matter was called around 9.30 am while admitting that he was yet to respond to the application by attorneys Dana Seetahal and Keith Scotland for Montano and Kernal Roberts to perform community service.
Busby said after discussions with the Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard and a review of the Community Service Order, that option was not available to the men.
The men appeared in court yesterday for sentencing after Montano was found guilty on four counts of assault and using obscene language while Roberts, 31, was found guilty on two counts of assault stemming from a fracas outside the then Zen nighclub on Keate Street, Port-of-Spain in 2008.
Montano however later walked out of the Port-of-Spain Magistrates Court surrounded by relatives, fans and well-wishers, minutes after he was granted a six-week adjournment.
Montano and Kernal Roberts are both expected to reappear before Magistrate Baboolal-Gafoor on February 25, when probation officers’ reports will be submitted before they are sentenced.
Busby said while there was no strict offence of aggravated assault, common assault aggravated by circumstances could be interpreted as assault occasioning actual bodily harm, as the same elements would be present.
Rebutting Busby's argument, Seetahal provided the court with several authorities and said there was no offence known as aggravated assault and it would be a travesty of justice to deny Montano and Roberts the opportunity to perform community service, when there were instances of people convicted of more serious crimes being allowed to do so.
She said while the offences for which the two are before the court were indictable, the prosecution had opted to proceed summarily.
Responding to this, Busby assured Seetahal that neither man had been prejudiced and despite the mode and manner of the trial the penalty would remain unchanged.
During their appearance on December 10, 2012, the court ordered probation reports and an assessment on the suitability of Montano and Roberts to perform community service, as requested by their attorneys.
However, both men failed to present themselves to be assessed, so no reports were submitted yesterday.
The magistrate later spoke directly to Montano and Roberts, telling them to contact the probation officer's department after their attorneys explained that no one had told the men about the initial court order.
Baboolal-Gafoor told the attorneys it was the responsibility of Montano and Roberts to visit the probation department located at at the corner of Queen and Henry Streets in Port-of-Spain.
Since the matter has generated great interest, security inside and outside the building was increased yesterday as people began filling the corridor outside the Seventh Court well before the start of the hearing.
As the doors were opened around 9 am, there was a mini-stampede as relatives of both men, fans and others with matters listed in that court rushed to enter ahead of the attorneys and reporters. Among those who were locked out as court officers sought to control the crowd was Rodney "Benjai" Le Blanc, who was also jointly charged with Montano and Roberts but was aquitted of two counts of assault.
Submitting 12 testimonials on Montano's behalf, attesting to his character and community outreach initiatives, Seetahal said they included statements from Island People founder Derrick Lewis, former Culture Minister Joan Yuille-Williams, retired principal Anthony Lincoln John, Calypso Rose (McCartha Lewis) and COTT CEO Josh Rudder.
Similarly, Scotland presented eight testimonials on Roberts' behalf.
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