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Man jailed for threatening to kill pregnant girlfriend

A man who admitted threatening to kill his pregnant girlfriend has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.

Makonnen Lowe, 28, from Southampton, pleaded guilty earlier this year to sending a series of threatening digital messages to Jenna Butterfield on February 5 and 6.

Prosecutor Susan Mulligan told the court that the couple were involved in an argument online when Ms Butterfield told Lowe that she didn’t want anything to do with him.

He responded with a series of messages saying: “You think my feelings are a joke until I put one in your head”, “I’m going to kill you” and “You don’t want me to go back to beating you”.

He continued to send threats to her on Facebook, writing: “I should go down there and f***ing rip the baby out of you.”

Ms Butterfield took pictures of her phone showing the messages, and told her family and police.

Lowe later turned himself in to police, but only after sending Ms Butterfield further messages asking her why she contacted police.

In one message he wrote: “I don’t want to go to jail. I want to be there for you and our child.”

After being placed in custody he continued to contact Ms Butterfield, sending letters, flowers and packages, including visitor passes for her and her family.

Ms Mulligan told the court the continued attempts to contact Ms Butterfield showed that the defendant didn’t understand that she wanted nothing to do with him, and should be considered an aggravating factor.

However lawyer Elizabeth Christopher, representing Lowe, said Ms Butterfield had also been in contact with the defendant and his family and was at least sending “mixed messages”.

Ms Christopher also refuted allegations by the victim that the relationship had been abusive, explaining that the reference in messages to beating the complaint was a reference to a past accident.

“That’s how she characterised the incident they did have to him. He was using the words she used,” Ms Christopher said.

However, Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves said the argument was an “impossible contortion” of the language.

Ms Christopher said Lowe is sorry for the incident and that the comments came as a result of jealous allegations from the complainant, which were not shown in the images provided by the victim.

“Sometimes when you are hurting you say the things that hurt the most,” she said. “They were both angry but you only have the two little screen shots from her phone.

“He shouldn’t have said that, and he knows it.”

Lowe himself apologised to the court, the victim and her family for the messages, saying all he wants is to be there for the birth of his child.

“I don’t want to be a dead-beat dad,” he said. “I have a job. I’m a bright young man. I’m only a few credits away from getting my associates degree from Bermuda College.

“My priority is to take care of my daughter and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Justice Greaves said the defendant had spoken very well about his remorse over the indecent, but the words he had used to Ms Butterfield had delivered a more disturbing message.

“These are powerful words that go straight to the soul,” he said. “If you were venting off, that is misfortune. You chose the wrong way to vent off.”

The judge said that he intends to advise the victim to not become involved with Lowe again, saying: “I hope she takes my advice at least for a good long period of time because the evidence in this jurisdiction is strong. When situations like this have arisen, it has gotten worse.”

Justice Greaves ordered that the three months Lowe has already spent in custody be taken into account, and ordered the sentence be followed by three years’ probation, with condition including that Lowe participate in any recommended anger management programmes.

However, he stopped short of ordering Lowe avoid contact with the complainant and her family, instead forbidding him to threaten or harass them.

Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building houses Bermuda's Magistrates' Courts (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published July 06, 2013 at 9:19 am (Updated July 06, 2013 at 9:18 am)

Man jailed for threatening to kill pregnant girlfriend

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