PHILIPSBURG–The man who allegedly assaulted a female bartender at Lotus nightclub in Cole Bay and severely cut the woman’s face with a broken glass on May 27, 2018, and who was shot outside St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) that same day, stood trial on Wednesday.
The Prosecutor called for six months suspended, on two years’ probation and 120 hours of community service, for the 29-year-old defendant. S.J.C.’s lawyer called for her client’s acquittal on the assault and battery charges.
The bartender, who was not present at the trial, received medical treatment and was expected to recover from her injuries to her face.
The defendant sustained a cut to his hand in the incident and went to SMMC for treatment. At the hospital he was confronted by some of the victim’s friends and was shot during an altercation. The shooting incident was never solved and it is still unknown who fired the gunshot that severely injured the defendant.
He told the Judge that he could not remember the nightclub fight, which had turned his life upside down. He was in the prime of his life at the time, whereas now he is walking “like an old man,” the Judge said.
The Prosecutor’s Office had no camera footage of the incident available, but defence lawyer Safira Ibrahim provided video images of the nightclub fight that were made with a mobile phone.
- told the Court he recognised himself on the images and acknowledged his involvement in the incident. “I take responsibility for what apparently has happened,” he said.
After the shooting and initial medical assistance at SMMC, C. was flown out to the Dominican Republic for emergency surgery. The former construction worker is no longer fit for work and has to undergo medical treatment to his nerve system in Colombia.
Based on the case file, the Prosecutor said he considered assault and battery proven. “I could not stand watching the gruesome images of the injuries inflicted to this very pretty woman who was mistreated,” the Prosecutor said. The woman had tried to intervene when she saw a friend of hers quarrelling with the defendant in the nightclub.
The Prosecutor said the shooting had been initiated by C.’s violent behaviour at the nightclub, which is why he had to stand trial. “The victim of the assault had nothing to do with the shooting and that is why he [C. – Ed.] was called to the court to justify himself,” the Prosecutor said.
He said the suspect needed to be punished for his criminal acts, while taking into account what had happened to him afterwards.
Attorney Ibrahim said it was a “miracle” that her client was able to attend his trial, using a walker. Contrary to the Prosecutor’s Office, the lawyer was of the opinion that her client had done everything to prevent further escalation of the incident in May last year.
She said the shooting had left her client’s spinal cord and several “crucial” organs damaged. Besides, the shooting had also had “mental and emotional” effects on the suspect, his mother and his girlfriend. “My client needs strong medication, which is causing hallucinations and post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Ibrahim.
The lawyer said the victim had provoked her client in the nightclub and said he had acted on impulse. “My client is taking responsibility for his actions, but can the charges be proven from a legal point of view? The defence feels it cannot,” Ibrahim said in calling for her client’s acquittal on the charge of inflicting of serious bodily harm, as the defence believes there is no evidence of any scars, or of the necessity for the victim to undergo cosmetic surgery.
Considering C.’s personal circumstances, among them the fact that he was shot and severely injured, the lawyer pleaded with the Court not to impose a sentence.
The Judge will give his decision September 11.