PHILIPSBURG–Three suspects are facing prison time between sixteen and eighteen months, as they are suspected of attempted manslaughter after a hit-and-run traffic accident on December 2, 2017. Two men ages 24 and 29 years and a 33-year-old woman were led before a judge on Thursday. The Court of First Instance will give its decision in their cases on November 15.
Suspects J.J.F.M., J.L. and A.L.L.V.P. were all charged with attempted manslaughter, theft and weapon possession. The incident, which took place outside Sea Breeze Hotel on Welgelegen Road originated in a hit-and-run traffic accident outside the restaurant where L. was working.
P. told the court her car had been hit and damaged by a vehicle driven by the victim. She told the judge the man had been intoxicated and had not wanted to cooperate. He did not want to wait for the police and left the scene without providing her with information about his person and insurance. Instead, he told her he lived at Sea Breeze Hotel and left.
P. said she had called the police and had visited the police station twice that day but had failed to obtain any police assistance. P. and L. then went to the hotel, where they located the victim’s car in the parking lot.
The situation escalated after that. P. and L. blocked the car, but the victim did not want to engage in any discussion with them. According to P., the victim swung a golf club at her and gave her a black eye. P. and L. then left and returned later when another argument started as the victim declined to pay damages.
Then M. came to the scene with insurance papers and a machete in his hand. As he believed that P. was threatened he came at the victim with the machete, which cut the victim on his hand and right arm.
A fight started during which, witnesses stated, the three suspects robbed their victim of US $1,200 in cash and valuables, among which were a chain and an expensive watch. The three denied this and said they did not steal anything, despite the fact that they had come to the scene to obtain money.
M. and L. are first offenders, but P. spent three months in prison in 2012, also for violence.
According to the prosecutor, it could not be established that the victim had also exerted violence, as the date on which the picture of P.’s black eye was taken could not be established.
The prosecutor was critical of the “coordinated” statements of the three suspects, and said he held M. most responsible for violence. He called for acquittal on the attempted manslaughter charges, but considered severe mistreatment proven. For this crime he demanded 24 months, six of which are to be suspended, on two years’ probation.
The prosecution found all three suspects guilty of theft with violence and of weapon possession. L. and P. should both be sentenced to 24 months, eight of which are to be suspended, on two years’ probation, and all three defendants should be put under Parole Board supervision, if it were up to the Prosecutor.
Attorney-at-law Safira Ibrahim said her clients had become involved in the incident “in an unfortunate way.” She pleaded self-defence, as her clients had come under attack first. In her eyes, this should lead to her clients’ dismissal from prosecution where the charges of manslaughter and theft with violence are concerned. She also pleaded for the acquittal of L. and P. on the weapon charges.
Ibrahim said her clients had done everything “according to the book,” but were desperate and at their wits’ end after the police failed to respond to their numerous requests for assistance.
The lawyer said P. had been “in shock and panicked. She was scared and frustrated,” after she was attacked with a golf club. “She only wanted information about the [victim’s – Ed.] vehicle and thought the man would board an airplane at any moment to leave the island,” the lawyer said.
Ibrahim said P. was not the only aggressor in this case. M. had come to her rescue but did not have the intention to use violence. “He only wanted to help and did not want to inflict injury or pain,” the lawyer said.
She claimed prison time would be too severe punishment, as her clients never had the intention for matters to get out of hand. “They only wanted assistance from the police and cooperation from the victim,” she stated.