Following a domestic dispute that ended with a man being charged when he retaliated to a reported attack by his lover, a local magistrate is calling for gender equality within the territory’s criminal justice system.
Magistrate Ayanna Baptiste-DaBreo made the call on Wednesday during the case against Zion Hill resident Sheldon Barry who is charged with threatening language, criminal damage, and common assault.
“How is he being charged and she is not? From the allegations [outlined], she assaulted him … [and] destroyed his phone,” the magistrate said.
“We have to be careful of the type of message we are sending. I am a feminist, but we have to look at the whole situation and we have to be fair in relations to these types of matters,” she added.
What the court heard happened
According to reports by the prosecution, Barry and his girlfriend of 10 years were at their common-law home in Zion Hill on March 22. It is reported that around 10:45 pm, the girlfriend was exiting the kitchen area and returning to the bedroom when she was blocked by Barry.
The court heard that he was making sexual advances towards her but she was reportedly uninterested and confronted him about a previous issue in their relationship.
The couple then had a verbal exchange and the female reportedly hurled a bottle at him twice but missed.
She then grabbed his hair and proceeded to pull it, the court heard.
The court further heard that because of her actions, a scuffle ensued between the couple. During that time, Barry reportedly placed his hands around his girlfriend’s neck and released her shortly after.
It is alleged that the girlfriend then hurled his cellular phone to the ground, and in response, Barry slapped her across her face.
Sometime later, Barry reportedly used a knife to punch a hole in the heel of one of her shoes and one of her dresses.
He then attempted to pierce her handbag when the knife he was using broke. It is alleged that he then told her, “the next thing the knife is going to be in is you”.
The Crown said the girlfriend attempted to leave with their nine-month-old child that night but her vehicle was blocked in the driveway.
She then made a call to the police and reported the matter.
Barry was subsequently charged with the offences before the court.
She broke my phone, so I slapped her
During a cautioned interview with police, Barry reportedly admitted to assaulting his girlfriend.
“Listen, she kept hitting me and she mash up my phone so I slapped her,” he reportedly told law enforcers.
He also said he damaged her shoe and dress to make her feel how he felt when she destroyed his phone.
In court, Barry pleaded guilty to the criminal damage and common assault charges but not guilty to using threatening language.
He was granted $10,000 bail.
Barry, who informed the court that he and his girlfriend were still together but living apart, is scheduled to return to court on November 14.
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