No punishment for man who injured psychiatric patient

POSTED: 02/2/12 1:47 PM

St. Maarten – Violet B., a woman with a psychiatric disorder, ended up with a skull fracture and an epidural bleeding on May 4 of last year when she was pelted with stones by Franklin B.M. de W. At the trial on January 11, the prosecution demanded 9 months conditional imprisonment, 60 hours of community service and payment of close to $4, 300 in damages to the injured party. Judge mr. Monique Keppels considered the charges proven, but she dismissed the defendant’s prosecution. As a consequence, the claim for damages was also rejected.
The circumstances of the case are tragic and heartbreaking for all parties involved.

Frankin de W. lives in Cape Bay in a house that stands alone far from other houses, surrounded by shrubbery. When he came back home around midnight on May 4 he spotted somebody near one of his bedroom windows hiding in the bushes. Because he had been the victim of burglary already three times, the defendant decided to take action. On previous occasions his calls to the police had yielded no results.
He called for the person to come out of the bushes and when nobody was forthcoming, he pelted the shrubbery with stones. According to the police report, De W. threw between fifteen and twenty stones, before he finally called the police. Nobody came out of the bushes.
The defendant told the police that he started throwing the stones when the person attempted to run away. When a patrol arrived on the scene, officers found the heavily injured woman in the bushes. She was unconscious and had severe head wounds.
Judge Keppels accepted attorney Geert Hatzmann’s call on self-defense.
“The defendant has stated that the person to whom he threw the stones attempted to break into his house, or had just broken into it. Considering the factual circumstances under which the defendant found this person around midnight in the immediate vicinity of his house, the court accepts that the defendant could reasonably make this assumption,” the judge wrote in her considerations.
“While it did not appear afterwards that Mrs. B., a psychiatric patient, attempted to burglarize the defendant’s house, it cannot be held against him that he wanted to defend himself against this imagined violation of his property rights. In spite of the fact that the defendant exceeded the limits of necessary defense by throwing between fifteen and twenty stones, the court considers it sufficiently plausible that this was the immediate result of the emotional rollercoaster he experienced because of the imagined violation.”

The serious consequences the defendant’s actions had for Violet B. do not alter these considerations, Judge Keppels ruled. She declared the family’s claim for damages inadmissible.
At the trial in January, the family submitted a claim for almost $8, 300. Part of the claim was for eating out because the victim was unavailable to cook for the family; another part was for a cleaner the family had hired, because the victim was also unavailable to clean the house. The prosecution already rejected these parts of the claim and asked the court to honor damages to the tune of almost $4, 300. The family will now have to go to civil court to claim the damages.

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