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‘Don’t jail my client for killing homeless man’

Published: 
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Christopher Henry is escorted out of the San Fernando High Court yesterday. PICTURE KRISTIAN DE SILVA

A Vistabella man who in a fit of rage killed a homeless man after the man threatened his wife and child with a bottle should be spared a prison sentence.

This is the position of both the defence and State attorneys in the matter of Christopher Henry who pleaded guilty to the offence of manslaughter. The incident took place almost 17 years ago.

However, Henry’s faith rests solely in the hands of Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas who will give his decision on June 12, in the San Fernando Second Criminal Court.

In his mitigation plea yesterday, attorney Subhas Panday submitted that Henry, then a street vendor on Coffee Street, San Fernando, had minutes before given the homeless man, identified as David Duncan, a cigarette and some money.

Panday said Henry “flew in a fit of rage” when minutes later his wife told him that Duncan had threatened her and their two-year-old daughter with a bottle on July 19, 2001.

Panday said there was no premeditation as Henry picked up the piece of wood while walking down the street. Henry caught up with Duncan on the corner of Lord Street near Republic Bank carpark.

He struck Duncan to his arm, shoulder and legs but Panday said it was never his client’s intention to kill the man. Duncan died from the injuries caused by the nails which were protruding from the piece of wood.

Panday asked the court to consider that Duncan had a mental illness, a history of violence and a criminal record.

“He would attack and harass everybody all the time,” said Panday, who added, “any man will make every effort to protect his wife and two-year-old child.”

Panday said Henry, 45, now a plumber, was a good man, father and husband. The judge interjected, “Sometimes evil come looking for you when you are minding your own business.”

The defence attorney submitted nine testimonials, including one from a police officer and a spiritual baptist church attesting to his client’s good character.

Agreeing with the defence, State attorney Trevor Jones said, “It is one of those rare cases where a non-custodial sentence is justifiable. And this is not because the deceased was a vagrant.”

Jones said the State’s investigation confirmed that the homeless man had threatened members of the public and was mentally ill. Jones said Henry has no other criminal matters, except for a marijuana conviction.

The judge, however, rejected a request by Panday to allow Henry to remain on bail pending the sentencing hearing. Henry was remanded into custody last Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to the offence.

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