After admitting to stabbing his own brother, Richard France, to death on December 12, 2013 at Falls Top, North West District (NWD), Neville France was on Monday sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment by High Court Judge James Bovell-Drakes.
The Judge said that the court must dispense justice, while being mindful of the circumstances that led to the man’s death, as both men were intoxicated at the time of the deadly altercation.
The Judge’s comments came after France’s lawyer, Siand Dhurjon, pleaded for leniency, saying that the deceased’s brother was the aggressor and referenced similar court cases where the accused in those matters were given sentences of under 10 years. However, Justice Bovell-Drakes observed that the sentence could not be too short even as Dhurjon conceded that the public was “clamouring for justice” moments before the Attorney petitioned the court to temper justice with mercy.
Justice Bovell-Drakes in handing down the sentence said that the court was satisfied that it was Neville who used the knife to kill his brother after he took it away from him.
“Your mistake was that you used the knife on him,” the Judge stressed, adding that both brothers were found to be aggressive.
“You and your brother both acted senselessly, but I am unable to concur with Counsel (Dhurjon) to impose a sentence of five or six years. The circumstances are too grave to exercise such leniency. The court has a weight of responsibility,” the veteran Judge observed.
He started with a base sentence of 62 years and subtracted 20 years for the age Richard was at the time of his death. The Judge also took off five years for the time the accused spent awaiting trial and another 10 years for not wasting the court’s time by pleading to the lesser count of manslaughter. A further 12 years was subtracted in light of his Attorneys’ plea in mitigation. This computation gave a total of 15 years for which France must serve.
According to the facts of the case, a drunken Richard France was arguing with a neighbour when the accused, Neville, intervened, and his brother instead turned on him, striking him with a brick. A scuffle ensued and Neville took away a knife his brother had and stabbed him.
In a probation report read by Probation Officer Remesia Lewis, the deceased was described as having suffered from “mental issues” and was in the habit of cursing people on the road. His father reported that Richard had injured him in the past. Meanwhile, Lewis reported that the accused, Neville France, had begun consuming alcohol from age 12 and this continued into adulthood, affecting his relationships. The father of three, who is illiterate, was, however, described as a good prisoner who has taken steps to curb his alcohol use.
The accused said that he was sorry for his actions which occurred on a day that he consumed vodka while his brother was using High Wine. Both siblings were said to be alcoholics by persons known to them. State Attorneys Lisa Cave and Mandell More presented the prosecution’s case. (Shemuel Fanfair)