Craftsman receives suspended sentence over fight
(CNS): A two year sentence handed down to a local artisan who stabbed his cousin in the arm was suspended on Thursday by the judge as a result of provocation and a degree of self-defence. Justice Charles Quin told Rudy Solomon that the two year sentence reflected the seriousness of the offence but because of the circumstances he was suspending it. Solomon had pleaded guilty to stabbing his relative but only after the victim had thrown a bicycle at him. The man had required some 17 stiches in the wound to his arm and the judge noted that Solomon’s response to the bicycle attack was disproportionate.
Describing the circumstances of the offence, which took place in February last year, the judge said the two men who lived close to each other in East End had some “acrimonious issues”. As the defendant rode his bike passed the home of Jeff Welcome, the complainant, on the evening in question, the men exchanged insults and got into a fight.
Although there are differing accounts of what happened between the two men, the judge said the stories were the same in important areas. The common area was that the complainant had thrown the bicycle at Solomon and was persistently aggressive towards the defendant. Justice Quin said both the crown and the defence were agreed on that.
Referring to a social enquiry report, the judge said Solomon had a difficult life and had something of a history of being a victim, who was frequently bullied and reluctant to fight back. Estranged from his family, some five years ago the defendant had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, the judge noted.
He said it was accepted by the defendant that he over-reacted when he sought to protect himself from the aggressive behaviour of Welcome. “In all the circumstances, the use of a knife by the defendant was unreasonable and disproportionate,” the judge said.
The knife was used by Solomon on a regular basis in relation to his craftwork, so it was not a weapon he had sought out to use against Welcome, but given the circumstances and the environment, the judge said that there were other options open to the defendant other than stabbing Welcome, such as riding away or going into his house to escape him.
Justice Quin said he agreed with the description of Solomon being something of a “tragic figure” that had a very difficult life but the court was “encouraged from the fact that the defendant is an avid craftsman, and invests the majority of his time in making and selling craft and artwork. The court strongly urges the defendant to continue in this admirable and worthwhile occupation.”
Given that the attack was a single blow and not sustained, that the defendant had pleaded guilty, showed remorse, that he had no previous convictions for violence and the clear evidence of provocation, the judge suspended the two year sentence.
The judge also ordered that Solomon pay the complainant compensation of $242.41 but he also instructed that the confiscated knife be returned to the defendant so he could use it once again in his craft.
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