BVI News

Sonnel freed! Still no mental health report

Sonnel Hanley. BVI News photo

While noting that the State has a responsibility to create a facility for persons with circumstances similar to Sonnel Hanley’s, Magistrate Ayanna Baptiste-DaBreo today dismissed the case of assault that was brought against Hanley.

Hanley, who the court heard is of no known address, is said to have ‘questionable’ mental health.

He was charged following reports in October last year that he randomly slapped a male tourist.

Hanley was released from lawful custody this morning after the prosecution offered no evidence in the case.

The prosecution explained that it is offering no evidence because the report on Hanley’s mental health is still outstanding.

The unforthcoming report has put the case at a virtual standstill. The report is to ascertain whether Hanley is psychologically fit to answer to the charge.

Considering that the examination is yet to be done, Magistrate Baptiste-DaBreo agreed with the prosecution, adding that Hanley has been in custody for months. The maximum penalty for the offence is one year, the magistrate noted.

“I do not think it is any way fair that Mr Hanley has been incarcerated since October of last…waiting for the report,” Magistrate Baptiste-DaBreo said. “This is the same thing that happened on the last occasion.”

The magistrate then said the powers that be should consider ‘coming together’ and developing a facility for persons who are of an unsound mind.

“It is the State’s responsibility,” she noted.

Meanwhile, Hanley told the court that he has received monthly treatment since being locked up at Her Majesty’s Prison.

Magistrate Baptiste-DaBreo told him he needs continued, regular treatment. “Mr Hanley, you need to find yourself at the hospital and take your shots, or you will find yourself in this position again,” she added.

Details regarding the incident that has been thrown out of court are that a male tourist and his wife were walking near the ferry terminal in Road Town on October 18 last year.

Hanley suddenly slapped the male visitor and accused him of looking at him, the prosecution claimed.

The visitor then reported the matter to the police.


Hanley has been in similar trouble with the law before.

In an incident years ago, he punched a tourist in the face near Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park in Road Town. In July 2012, then senior magistrate Valerie Stephens-Gordon sentenced Hanley to six months imprisonment for the crime.

Meanwhile, in 2013, Hanley was back before the Magistrate’s Court after allegations surfaced that he slapped a female outside Bobby’s Supermarket in Road Town.

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