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Soca star Machel Montano and songwriter Kernal Roberts can be sentenced to a maximum term of imprisonment of five years having been found guilty of charges of assault occasioning bodily harm. This is according to Section 30 of the Offences Against the Person Act, Chapter 11:08.Having also been found guilty on two counts of common assault, Montano could be ordered to pay $4,000 and serve a term of imprisonment for two years. Montano was also found guilty of using obscene language which, according to Section 49 of the Summary Offences Act Chapter 11:02, carries a penalty of a fine of $200 or imprisonment for 30 days.
The verdicts against the reigning Power Soca Monarch and Road March winner and his band member Roberts were announced by Magistrate Maureen Baboolal-Gafoor in the Port of Spain Magistrates Court yesterday.
Montano and Roberts were charged along with soca artistes Joel “Zan” Feveck and Rodney “Benjai” LeBlanc following an altercation with four patrons – Gerard Bowrin, Brandis Browne, Janelle Lee Chee and Russell Pollonais – outside the Zen nightclub in Port of Spain in April 2007.
LeBlanc was found not guilty of the two common assault charges laid against him and Feveck, who was charged with one count of common assault, was also found not guilty.
Baboolal-Gafoor is expected to pass sentence on Montano and Roberts on January 17.
The Express asked one magistrate what factors would Baboolal-Gafoor most likely take into consideration in determining the appropriate sentence to be meted out to Montano and Roberts.
“Generally, the court will take in account whether the person is a first-time offender or not,” the magistrate said.
“If the person has previous convictions, the magistrate will consider whether they are of a similar nature to the current conviction, the character of the person, that is if he has any involvement in the community and his age, the nature of the offence and whether the person pleaded guilty at the first opportunity or not. A plea of guilty at the first opportunity is the best show of remorse.
“The court may also want to consider the effect of a conviction recorded against a person as in the case of a student who has shown an intention or shown evidence of studying abroad…how the conviction may affect his chances of acquiring a visa.
“However, the weight given to these different elements are all dependent upon the individual magistrates.
“Persons can also be placed on a community service order. But with five matters, the court may not want to consider that option,” the magistrate said.
Minister of Community Development and former Calypsonian, Winston Gypsy Peters, is “very saddened” to hear that soca star Machel Montano has been found guilty on four charges of assault and one of obscene language.
Peters, who told the Express yesterday that Montano was like his little son and he had known him since he was a child, stated: “I hope that there would be some kind of leniency in terms of….(his sentencing). You know Machel is not a violent person in any way. And sometimes bad things happen to good people. The law has taken its course which is the right way to go, but I do hope that everything works well for him and we wouldn’t have any setback because a setback for Montano is also a setback for our country.
“Montano is a flagship entertainer of our country and I hope that everything works well for him. But it goes to show that in Trinidad and Tobago the law, despite what everybody says, the law takes its course and the law is for all. But I hope that everything works well for Machel. I love him to death.”
Asked about the fact that Montano had been embraced by the current administration, Peters said he did not know that the Government embraced Montano but rather it was the people of the country.
“Machel is an international iconic figure who happens to be from Trinidad and Tobago. The people of Trinidad and Tobago have embraced him. And rightly so because we need people like that to publicise our island,” he said.