Moruga man gets reduced sentence for destroying wife’s phone

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Justice of Appeal Mark Mohammed.

A Moruga man who was sentenced to five months in prison for destroying his common-law wife’s cellphone during an argument over infidelity has had his sentence varied to a reduced fine and compensation.

On Thursday, Justices of Appeal Mark Mohammed and Maria Wilson resentenced Adesh Francis, a truck driver, expressing surprise that courts were not adopting the appellate court’s sentencing guidelines years after they were given.

In a ruling, the judges said it was not evident how the magistrate, who sentenced Francis to five months in prison, arrived at that sentence.

Francis’s attorney Chase Pegus argued that the magistrate did not heed the sentencing guidelines and went “off-track” with the sentence, which was oppressive.

In agreement was assistant Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Nigel Pilgrim, who said he “wholeheartedly” agreed the sentencing guidelines were “totally disregarded,” adding to the errors in sentencing.

The judges said it appeared the magistrate put everything “in a pot” in an ad-hoc manner and took into account irrelevant factors.

They set aside Francis’s sentence and resentenced him. They said on the basis of the evidence and there being no additional aggravating features in the case apart from the damaged cellphone, a custodial sentence would serve no useful purpose.

After taking into account Francis’s prompt admission to police that he used a hammer to destroy the phone, his previous good character and remorse, and his guilty plea, the judges ordered him to pay a fine of $1,340.

They also ordered him to compensate his common-law wife by $1,525, which was the worth of the cellphone he destroyed.

Francis was given a month to pay the fine and three months to pay the compensation.