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10 month sentence for assault on police officer

Gordwin John – the 4-Roads man was sent to prison for 10 months after inflicting a wound on a police officer

In the wake of what is perceived to be a breakdown in law and order, the St. George’s No.1 Magistrate’s Court has sent a strong message that fighting in public will not be tolerated, and that the use of any offensive weapon is likely to attract a custodial sentence upon conviction.

Chief Magistrate Teddy St. Louis on Tuesday imposed a 10-month prison sentence on 38-year-old Gordwin John of the notorious 4-Roads region in the city following an incident which left a Sergeant of Police receiving five stitches to the head and a civilian with a serious eye injury.

John was apprehended by police following a physical altercation in the Town of St. George’s last week Friday which left Sgt. Adrian Panchoo suffered from a 6-centimeter long, 1-centimeter deep wound and several abrasions to his head.

The attack occurred on Grenville Street in St. George’s near the St. George’s Market Square just before 6.00 p.m.

THE NEW TODAY understands that Sgt. Panchoo was driving his vehicle, accompanied by his wife and two (2) young children, and was forced to stop to try and diffuse a fight between two (2) men.

The police officer who is attached to the fire Department on the Carenage, pulled away one man before he was struck to the back of the head with a glass bottle which forced him to visit the St. George’s General Hospital for treatment to the wound.

The injured officer was not present in court on Tuesday but Police Prosecutor Kerry Swan informed the Chief Magistrate that he was not interested in compensation, and urged the court to impose a sentence that will “send a message that fighting in public…fighting with the police will not be tolerated.”

Information provided to the court indicated that one (1) of the men involved in the incident has been identified as ‘Jamie,’ a cousin of the convicted John who was not directly involved in the fight but admitted to throwing the bottle that struck Sgt. Panchoo in the head.

He pleaded guilty to the offence with assistance from American-trained attorney-at-law Jerry Edwin, who in his defense informed the court that his client is now “entirely apologetic” for the turn of events.

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According to Edwin, John was inebriated and unaware of who Sgt. Panchoo was, since he was dressed in plain clothes, and did not identify himself as a police officer.

“We asked the Court to be lenient …. in the circumstances because Mr. John did not know that Sgt. Panchoo was an officer of the law. I think that is clear, granted he was drinking, and alcohol does blur your vision regardless of all the nice ads you see on television about the beauty of drinking alcohol. Alcohol is a precursor to violence and Mr. John was inebriated unfortunately,” Edwin told THE NEW TODAY moments after the sentence was handed down.

“It is unfortunate that an ordinary assault has escalated into an offense that attracted a prison term…I think the Magistrate and I think the rest of civil society is just tired of seeing altercations in public fighting. I think we have just had too much of it and the reaction of the court this morning was to send a message. The court is sending a message that public fighting would not be tolerated,” he added.

In handing down custodial sentence to John in keeping with the new Sentencing Guidelines for a wounding conviction, Magistrate St. Louis departed from the maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $4, 000.00, granting the accused a one-third reduction for his guilty plea, less (3) months for his expression of remorse.

However, the Chief Magistrate expressed concern with the increased level of violence within the Town of St. George, citing the correlating issue of safety for civilians and visitors alike.

“We have had too many incidents of fighting…especially in the vicinity of the St. George’s Market,” Magistrate St. Louis said, “adding that this is an issue that has to be handled with “extreme caution and care.”

Earlier this month, a high-ranking police officer confirmed to THE NEW TODAY that wounding is among the crimes that are on the rise, along with causing harm and sexual offences with the under-aged.

The Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) has not released statistics in recent weeks on the crime situation in the country.

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