Jamaica: Man loses appeal of 18-year sentence for throwing wife off balcony

(JAMAICA GLEANER) Jamaica’s second-highest court has tossed out the appeal filed by a Manchester man against the 18-year prison sentence handed to him for throwing his female companion off a second-floor balcony, leaving her paralysed from the waist down.

Oral Gammon was given the 18-year sentence in July 2014, one month after he was found guilty in the Manchester Circuit Court for causing grievous bodily harm with intent arising from the May 2012 attack on his spouse, Meline Watson.

Gammon has two previous convictions for manslaughter and wounding with intent and was released from prison one year before the midnight attack on Watson, court records revealed.

“Considering that Mr Gammon had two previous convictions for violence, the trial judge cannot be said to have been wrong in handing down the sentence that she did,” the Court of Appeal said in dismissing the legal challenge by Gammon.

“The sentence is in line with the normal range of the sentences for this offence,” the court confirmed.

Prosecutors led evidence during Gammon’s trial that he returned to the home he shared with Watson at approximately 1:30 a.m. after being gone for seven days.

According to the evidence, he was in a belligerent mood and told Watson he wanted to kill her, causing the woman to go out on to the second-floor balcony of the three-storey home.

Armed with a cutlass, Gammon went out on to the balcony after Watson, court documents revealed, and used it to chop at her, but she managed to escape injuries.

Moments later, according to prosecutors, he grabbed her around the waist and, after a brief struggle, threw her over a guardrail, causing the woman to plunged “27 to 30 feet” to the ground.

“As he pushed her over he said ‘a dead yuh must dead, gal’ and/or ‘gal, a dead you fi dead’,” court documents revealed.

Gammon drove Watson to the Mandeville Hospital where she remained for two months. Doctors later confirmed that she was paralysed from the waist down.

NO MERIT

But Gammon, in seeking to have the conviction and sentence overturned, argued that he did not receive a fair trial. He complained that the court failed to recognise his assertion that Watson’s injury was caused by self-inflicted action and that “I had nothing to do with the alleged crime”.

He also argued that prosecutors failed to present “concrete and substantive” evidence to support the charge against him and claimed the trial amounted to a miscarriage of justice.

However, the Court of Appeal found that the judge who presided over the trial placed all the various issues “squarely before the jury”.

“She [the presiding judge] made it clear that it was a matter of who the jury believed was speaking the truth. She warned them several times that even if they rejected Mr Gammon’s account, they were obliged to ensure that the prosecution had satisfied them so that they felt sure of the prosecution’s case,” the court said.

“There is no basis for impugning the learned trial judge’s direction to, or the finding of, the jury. None of the proposed grounds of appeal have any merit,” it concluded.

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