Girl avoids jail after burning athlete
A 16-year-old girl who threw boiling water over a sleeping man in “a one-off moment of madness” because of his relationship with her mother has narrowly avoided jail.
Magistrates' Court heard that during the early hours of June 15, Quaashie Douglas, a Carifta Games athlete, inflicted serious burns on 21-year-old Shaquille Dill, one of the Island's top runners, who has only recently been able to return to training.
According to Cindy Clarke, the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Dill had become intimately involved with Douglas's 39-year-old mother, which the defendant, who knew him, would not accept.
Mr Dill had come to the residence to see the mother that night while Douglas was out at a house party.
He later awoke in the mother's bed in “enormous pain” on his side and chest after Douglas, who had returned home and spotted him, poured a kettle of scalding water on to him.
Mr Dill, whose skin was peeling off from his injuries, was taken to the hospital with second-degree burns that required lengthy treatment.
Noting that the victim had no chance to defend himself, Ms Clarke called for a custodial sentence.
Defence lawyer Jerome Lynch told magistrate Juan Wolffe that the assault, to which Douglas gave an early guilty plea, had been “a tragedy for the respective families of both sides”.
“It is particularly acutely felt by this young woman's mother.”
Douglas had been upset to discover her mother's relationship with Mr Dill when she returned home from school at St Johnsbury Academy in Vermont, he said. The complainant had at one point been in a relationship with one of her friends, and the two knew each other as contemporaries.
Douglas had run from the house two days before the assault after seeing her mother kissing the complainant in her bedroom. She and her mother then exchanged a series of messages in which Douglas told her she “should not be messing with a little boy”.
“I don't say any of this to justify what she did, but simply to provide an explanation or background,” Mr Lynch added, telling the court that on June 15 she had come home from the party and switched on the kettle for a cup of tea. She then noticed that Mr Dill was in the bedroom.
“No one knows at this time what possessed her. She went in and poured the water on his body, not anticipating for a moment that the kind of injury that was sustained would be sustained.” Mr Lynch noted also that Douglas messaged Mr Dill the next day to apologise.
The defence read to the court three positive character references for Douglas, including one from Freddie Evans, the acting commissioner of education.
“She is a decent young woman who has for some inexplicable reason gone astray in a moment of madness,” Mr Lynch added.
“That's the $64,000 question,” Mr Wolffe responded. “Here we have a young lady who on the face of it was going along swimmingly. Then, on this night, something happened. The question would be, why?”
Mr Lynch said: “I would venture to suggest this is teenage angst at its worst.” Incarceration would “destroy her life”, he said.
Mr Wolffe called on Douglas to explain herself, telling her: “This is your opportunity to literally fight for your freedom.”
Douglas told the court she was “very sorry and very frightened” and said she had acted out of anger.
Mr Wolffe told her he was not satisfied her regret and remorse were deeply held, but accepted that the attack had spur-of-the-moment rather than premeditated.
He sentenced Douglas to three years' imprisonment, to be suspended for two years, accompanied by two years' probation and rehabilitation.
“You must find a better way to resolve whatever issues you have got,” Mr Wolffe said. “Any relationship between your mother and Mr Dill is none of your business.”
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