Sir Michael Birt, Kt., Bailiff, and Jurats Morgan and Crill.
The Attorney General
Damien John Michael Stearn
Sentencing by the Inferior Number of the Royal Court, following a guilty plea to the following charge:
1 count of:
Grave and criminal assault (Count 1).
Details of Offence:
The victim witnessed Stearn (who was highly intoxicated) teasing a man in Spar in New Street and told him to stop. Stearn then left the shop, returned a short time later and waited outside, where he was joined by his mother and 5-year-old sister. When the victim left, Stearn began to shout at him. Stearn's mother shoved the victim twice. Stearn then swung two punches, knocking the victim to the ground. Stearn also fell to the ground and punched the victim at least twice more to the head or upper body. He then took the victim in a headlock and punched him to the head several times. The victim was then pulled backwards and Stearn manoeuvred himself so that he was holding the victim's head with both arms. He then lifted his leg and clamped the victims head between his arm and leg, freeing his hand to beat the victim around the head. After a further struggle, Stearn got to his feet, pulling the victim to his knees by his hair. He inflicted at least one more punch. His sister was within a few feet at all times (an aggravating feature). It was broad daylight on a Saturday afternoon and the area was busy.
The victim suffered petechial haemorrhaging, abrasions, black eyes, one of which was lacerated, a sub-conjunctival haematoma and a whiplash-like injury. A chunk of his hair was pulled out.
In interview Stearn claimed that the victim had said he had a knife and had threatened to stab him.
Stearn was assessed as being at very high risk of reconviction and high risk of harm to the public. The reports concluded that he did not show genuine remorse or victim empathy, and did not take full responsibility for his actions. In the reports he maintained that the acted in self-defence due to threats made by the victim.
This was not accepted by the Crown. Stearn declined to take the matter to Newton Hearing and so was sentenced on the basis that no such comment or threat was made.
Details of Mitigation:
Guilty plea, limited cooperation with the police, very limited remorse as he blamed the victim even in his letter to the Court.
No kicks; had been sober for a long time but under stress that day and so had been drinking, urged a non-custodial (but conceded that Stearn refused to engage with agencies other than Probation, specifically refused to engage with psychiatric or psychological services).
26 previous convictions, including 8 common assaults, 3 grave and criminal assaults and a battery. Mainly committed when a young offender.
2 years' imprisonment.
Exclusion Order sought for a period of 12 months excluding the defendant from 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th category licensed premises excluding the Multiplex Cinema, the Jersey Arts Centre, Jersey Airport, the ferry terminal at Elizabeth Harbour and the Opera House to take effect from the date of release from prison.
Sentence and Observations of Court:
21 months' imprisonment.
Exclusion Order made for a period of 12 months excluding the defendant from 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 7th category licensed premises excluding the Multiplex Cinema, the Jersey Arts Centre, Jersey Airport, the ferry terminal at Elizabeth Harbour and the Opera House to take effect from the date of release from prison.
Ms E. L. Hollywood, Crown Advocate.
Advocate P. S. Landick for the Defendant.
1. This was a nasty assault. After a verbal altercation in Spar, when the victim intervened to tell you to stop teasing another man who was in the shop, you went out of the shop but then, when the victim came out, you started shouting at him. Your mother then arrived with your 5 year old half-sister and she shoved the victim twice. As a result you then decided to punch him. You did so and you both fell to the ground but, once there, you then committed a sustained assault on him. You punched him repeatedly to the head and the upper body and then you held him in a clamp with your legs so that you could continue to punch him. Eventually you pulled him to his feet and punched him once more before being led away by your mother.
2. We should emphasise that we are sentencing on the Crown's version of events. In particular you have said at times that the victim said something about having a knife or going to stab you or your mother. That is not supported by the Crown. We raised the matter specifically with your counsel as to whether there needed to be a Newton Hearing, but your counsel has said that you have specifically instructed him that you are content to be dealt with on the Crown's version of events; and therefore we proceed on the basis there was no such comment by the victim.
3. Your assault caused him considerable cuts and bruises to his face, as described by the Crown Advocate, and as we have seen in the photographs. There was also some form of whiplash injury and the victim says in his impact statement that he still gets headaches. So all in all it was an unpleasant and nasty assault.
4. Of course, it is not your first conviction. You have a bad record for previous assaults but, and this is important, we note that these were, for the most part, committed when you were a teenager and that apart from one conviction in May 2012, the last one was when you were 18 and there was a gap of some 5 years before that final assault when you were 23.
5. We take into account the guilty plea; the letters which we have read, including your letter of remorse. We particularly have regard to your very troubled background; you have been in care since the age of 5, you have acquired a distrust of authority and you clearly have a problem with alcohol. Despite what your advocate said this morning, we hope very much that in prison you will take advantage of what is on offer. There are people there who wish to help; they have your best interests at heart even if you do not believe that, and we hope therefore that you will take advantage because this may help when you are released. But assaults such as these merit imprisonment and we see no alternative to prison in this case.
6. We think we can make a small reduction in the conclusion. The sentence of the Court is 21 months' imprisonment.
7. We also make the Exclusion Order as requested except that we do not apply it to 3rd category premises. We think that it is somewhat excessive to prevent people from going into restaurants where they will be eating as opposed into premises where they may just be drinking. So we make the order as sought by the Crown but not including 3rd category premises.
Licensed Premises (Exclusion of Certain Persons)(Jersey) Law 1998.
AG v Passman and Passman  JRC 230.
Whelan on Aspects of Sentencing in the Superior Courts of Jersey Third Edition.