Suspended sentence for domestic violence

POSTED: 05/31/12 12:07 PM

St. Maarten –A 1-year suspended prison sentence with 3 years of probation and the obligation to follow anger management training. That was the verdict against a 32-year-old man in the Court in First Instance yesterday for acts of domestic violence against his girlfriend.

At the request of the defendant’s attorney mr. Shaira Bommel, this newspaper makes an exception for this conviction by not publishing the defendant’s name. He has the care for three minor children and a fourth on the way) and publishing his name could cost him his job, the attorney said. Today’s standard approach is to protect the identity of suspects and minors, but to publish full names after a conviction.

The case in question is however serious enough to report about. On March 18, the defendant got into an argument with his girlfriend. He kicked in the door of their house when she refused to open for him, and then bit her in her face and in her fingers. To defend herself, the woman stabbed the man in his back.

The talkative defendant admitted freely what he had done, though he said that he did not remember everything due to the fact that he had been heavily under the influence of alcohol. “This is shameful and embarrassing,” he said in a rare display of honesty seldom witnessed in the courtroom. “I am here to take responsibility for what I did.”

Prosecutor mr. Dounia Benammar pointed out that biting is extremely dangerous. If a bite breaks skin, the victim runs a serious risk of infections. “The consequences could be severe,” she said. “We take domestic violence seriously. Both parties should realize how serious this is.”

The defendant said that he has given up on heavy drinking and that the couple is back together.

mr. Benammar demanded a 1-year suspended prison sentence with 3 years of probation and the obligation to follow anger management training.

mr. Bommel said that her client regretted the ill-treatment, that he is taking responsibility for it and that he has no good explanation for his behavior. “Even his girlfriend was surprised.” The attorney wondered whether the case falls in the category of causing grievous bodily harm, as the prosecutor indicated.

Judge Keppels sided with the defense on this point and considered the attack as simple ill-treatment. That did not change anything as far as the punishment is concerned: the judge followed the prosecutor’s demand.

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