By Anastasha Elliott
Justice Francis Belle voiced the regret of not being able to in force a law allocating for the beating of convicted men.
He was at the time doling out sentences to three of the five young men responsible for the death and near death of residents of Cayon.
He said to the men, “you can’t say you attack a man on a bus and you were defending yourself. He had to be defending himself from you.”
“I wish I could use the same legislation I used yesterday (Monday) but there is no provision for it in this instance.”
He was referring to the Corporal Punishment ordinance which allocates for the lawful flogging or whipping of convicted adults and juveniles in certain instances.
Kurt Mills 26, Leon Norford, Kenneth Mills 21, Antwan Thompson 20, and Kemba Swanston were indicted on the charge of murder and attempted murder.
Four excluding Swanston however agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter and attempted murder and were sentenced following the submission of social reports by the relevant authority.
Kurt Mills and Antwan ‘Drugger’ Thompson were sentenced to life in prison and Kenneth Mills was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
They also received concurrent sentences of ten years each for the indictment of attempted murder.
Norford of the four was not sentenced due to the absence of his lawyer, Henry Browne who is off island.
He will be sentenced on March 7. Swanston who pleaded not guilty will stand trial.
The Mills brothers, was represented by Hesketh Benjamin, while Thompson was represented by Chesley Hamilton and Norford by Dr. Henry Browne.
Benjamin in making a mitigation plea on behalf of his clients reminded the court of the regret they have shown for the act they committed.
He said however, that they are responsible for their actions “as each of us have to be.”
Benjamin spoke of Kurt as an infant going down the road misguided.
“At the end of the day,” he said, “they have to bear there cross alone.”
He asked the Judge to look at his clients with mercy and further asked that the word hopelessness is not applied to them.
Hamilton on behalf of his client said that he has said that he is very sorry that the incident took place as it did.
He added that his client feels badly about the incident and did not want to get into trouble with the law.
He said Thompson who speaks Spanish fluently has had very little contact with both parents and his upbringing was left to his elder brother.
His client who has been in jail for over two years he said had problems adjusting to prison life, but has made the decision to and has taken advantage of the opportunities within the prison.
He informed the Court that he has completed a carpentry course, attended the ‘House of Healing’ organised by the Catholic Church, attending counselling sessions, and has also completed a course on parenting and fathering.
Thompson is a father of baby girl who was born while he was incarcerated.
Hamilton pleaded with the court that his client has shown hope and a will to do better and has apologised to the victim and family.
He stated, “the best indication of how to address a past is what we do with our future and present.”
Hamilton asked the court not to view his client as hopeless but to give him a chance for re-entrance into society.
“I am not asking you to be God or Christ,” he said to the Judge, “but Godlike or Christlike and give them an opportunity, one they can take with both hands sometime in the future.”
Justice Belle in addressing the men and their counsel, before sentencing them, said he has noticed there is an absence of role models and an inability to conform to rules of institutions.
He said he has noticed that the boys of Keys and Cayon fight a lot.
He then posed several questions to the four men. “What happen up there in Keys and Cayon. Is there oil or gold. I want to know what it is up there that is worth life and limb.”
Justice Belle stated that he is of the opinion that society has made an effort, because the men have been able to get and retain well paying jobs despite a formal lack of education.
Thompson, even being able to go out and build himself a little house, added Justice Belle.
However previous convictions for both Thompson and Kurt Mills did not bide well for the two men.
Justice Belle said those previous convictions in 2002 were the two men’s chance to never again, to say “I am sorry and will change my life around.”
Instead, according to Belle they have stepped up from wounding which is just a step below murder and attempted murder.
Thompson he acknowledged has a baby girl and unfortunately the same cycle of absent parent will have to continue.
The Judge said he did not see any real mitigation circumstance to warrant more lenient sentences.
The incident, on which they came before the court, “Was a very savage and brutal attack. They actually attempted to kill two persons and succeeded in killing one.”
“You can’t say a man on a bus and you attack the bus in broad daylight with other passengers on the bus and you were defending yourself,” said Justice Belle.
To Kurt Mills he said, “It is going to be a matter for the executive when to let you out of prison.”
After informing the men of their fate Justice Belle said, “Take them away!”