While prosecutors are alleging that it was an offence motivated by race, a 23-year-old Long Bush man accused of assault has testified that he was acting in self-defence when he reportedly injured a Caucasian male on September 26 three years ago.
Kiover Hatchett’s trial for assault occasioning actual bodily harm officially ended on Wednesday after gave his testimony before Magistrate Shawn Innocent.
The court heard two different versions of what happened on the night in question — one recount of the incident was from Hatchett and the other was a written statement from the complainant who has since left the territory.
Hatchett told the court that he along with friends were socialising on the basketball court neighbouring Elmore Stoutt High School in Road Town on the night in question.
He said, while there, a ‘strange white man’ approached and ask if they sold ‘coke’ (cocaine).
They told him that he was in the wrong place as they did not sell drugs.
Hatchett said the man left and returned drinking from a can of Coca-Cola then threw the remainder of the drink at the young men. He further claimed that some spilled on him (Hatchett).
Hatchett also claimed that the man was armed with a knife and attacked him. He told the court that he hit the man twice in his back with a metal pipe. He further said other young men pelted beer cans and bottles at the Caucasian ‘stranger’.
Hatchett said he then left the area, which he described as being poorly lit at the time of the inicdent. Hatchett said, on the following morning, he saw blood in the area where the incident took place. He further said and heard talks that a man was badly beaten.
The complainant’s written statement
According to the complainant’s statement to police, he had been vacationing in the territory for the last 20 years before securing a job to stay and work.
He was living in Lower Estate and, on the night in question, the court heard that he had left his apartment to purchase a meal from a vendor.
He said he was then searching for a place to sit when he walked past a group of men who immediately started hurling racist slurs like ‘white trash’ at him. He said he was told that he doesn’t belong and that he should not come back.
The court heard that the young men began throwing the beer cans and bottles at him. He noted in his statement that “did not feel safe” so he left the area. While passing the area moments later to head home, he claimed he was again accosted by Hatchett and the group of men.
The complainant claimed that the same group of men told him, ‘I thought we told you to leave’ then attacked him.
He said one man, whom he gave a general description of, used a metal chair to hit him on the head, while the others used sticks to beat him.
The court heard that the man eventually escaped and sought medical attention. A subsequent report was made to police.
In court, Hatchett’s attorney, Isis Potter, made a no case submission, effectively arguing that the prosecution did not have any compelling evidence against her client.
She said the “evidence produced by the Crown is manifestly unreliable”.
She pointed to the fact that the court only had the virtual complainant’s statement and he was not present to be cross-examined.
She said it seemed ‘ridiculous’ that the virtual complainant claimed he was in fear for his life but came back to the same route that the young men were.
Potter pointed out that the Crown did not bring any other witnesses and it was, in essence, the defendant’s word against the complainant’s word.
The court also heard that there hardly any link between the complainant’s general description of his main attacker and Hatchett’s arrest.
The prosecution’s rebuttal
Prosecutors rebutted that there was indeed evidence and pointed to the witness statement, the medical report, and the fact that there was an assault by the defendant’s own admission.
Magistrate Innocent subsequently ruled that the evidence in the matter was sufficient to establish a case against Hatchett.
The court is now slated to decide Hatchett’s guilt when he returns on November 9.
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