Police officers escorting suspect Oldain Ronald Claxton (24) into the Courthouse on Wednesday morning.

 

PHILIPSBURG--The man found guilty of involvement in an early-morning shooting in front of a supermarket on Middle Region Road close to Romeo’s Drive on March 21, 2018, was sentenced to eight years by the Court of First Instance on Wednesday.

  The Prosecutor’s Office had accused suspect Oldain Ronald Claxton (24) of attempted murder, three attempted manslaughters and possession of an illegal firearm, during the September 25 court hearing, and had called for a prison sentence of 14 years.

  The shooting incident originated in an argument between the suspect and another man with whom he said he had been in a feud for more than two years. At one point during the confrontation, Claxton pulled a gun and fired several shots at the victim, who took off running.

  The person who worked at the supermarket as a “packer boy” was shot in his back and could have been killed, according to the Prosecutor. Three bystanders, a young primary schoolboy among them, narrowly escaped being hit.

  During his trial, the defendant confessed to having fired one or more gunshots, but denied he had tried to kill anyone.

  A Prosecutor’s Office’s compilation of video-surveillance camera footage of the incident was shown in the courtroom during the hearing.

  In weighing the evidence, the Court stated there were insufficient indications that the suspect had wanted to take the packer boy’s life. He was also acquitted of the attempted manslaughter of one of the bystanders, a woman, as the Judge said he was not convinced that she had actually been in danger.

  This was different where the schoolboy and a man in a car were concerned: both narrowly escaped being hit by flying bullets. In these two cases the Court did consider attempted manslaughter proven.

  The Court stated in the verdict that the defendant had displayed “absurd behaviour” by firing gunshots in “broad daylight” in a neighbourhood where the morning commute had started.

  “By running in a blind rage after [the victim – Ed.], he consciously accepted the considerable chance of fatally injuring persons who just happened to be in the neighbourhood,” the Judge said of the defendant.

  In weighing all aspects of this case, the Court deemed an eight-year prison sentence warranted, which was six years lower than the Prosecutor’s demand.

  As reasons for the milder punishment, the Court said the defendant held a stevedoring job at the port and did not make a living by crime. His “brash” act had been the result of inability to de-escalate the protracted personal conflict with the victim, and the incident had not been gang-related. Also, the Judge said he did not want to take away the suspect’s prospect of a life in freedom after his imprisonment.

  Attorney-at-law Safira Ibrahim had said during the trial that the attempted murder and manslaughter charges should be dismissed, due to “psychological force majeure”.

  The lawyer said her client had pulled his firearm and had shot at the victim out of panic and fear. She said her client had not been aware of other persons at the scene of the crime and denied that he had fired shots at random on the public road.