Convicted killer seeks shorter sentence

todays court

Almost a year after admitting to killing a man and being sentenced to 20 years behind bars, Andrew O’Neil Hunte today asked the Court of Appeal for a more lenient sentence.

He will now have to wait to hear whether the court believes he should be in jail for a shorter period.

Hunte pleaded guilty to unlawfully killing Malcolm Husbands in March 2012, after finding his [Hunte’s] girlfriend in the
man’s house.

The facts in the matter that was presided over by Madame Justice Maureen Crane-Scott indicated that sometime between the night of March 23 and the early hours of the next day, Hunte awoke to find that his girlfriend Keisha Johnson was not at the house. He then drove to the home of Husbands, who was a friend of the couple, and looked through the window and saw the two together.

Hunte broke in through a window and spoke to the pair who both denied that anything was going on. As he was leaving, however, he noticed the woman’s underwear on Husbands’ bed and he stabbed the man with a knife.

His attorneys Keith Simmons Q.C. and Alvan Babb today outlined six grounds of appeal before Justices of Appeal Sandra Mason, Professor Andrew Burgess and Kaye Goodridge.

Among those grounds were that during sentencing, the trial judge had referred to Hunte “stalking” the woman’s movements
but had not gone on to state what constituted stalking. The attorneys contended that stalking would have required repeated instances of Hunte following his girlfriend and presenting credible threats, which was not the case.

The lawyers said the judge should therefore not have considered stalking in determining Hunte’s sentence.

The defence team also argued that Justice Crane-Scott at times seemed “to dismiss or deny that there was a provocation.”

They submitted that Hunte’s situation “falls squarely” into the definition of provocation after he had agreed to compensate Husbands for the window and was calmly leaving the house. However, seeing the underwear would have, “for that split second”, caused Hunte “not to master his mind”.

The attorneys submitted that Hunte should not have been sentenced to a term beyond 14 years.

Further, they argued, the trial judge failed to acknowledge that Hunte and the woman had a “visiting” relationship and it “should not be ignored” that it was because of her failure to return that night that he went in search of her.

However, Principal Crown Counsel Elwood Watts said he found no merit in the ground that the trial judge needed to define stalking, since she had referred to it in relation to Johnson’s and Husbands’ behaviour in the house. Further, he said, the crime of stalking was not the one before the court.

Watts also submitted that Justice Crane-Scott was free to exercise her sentencing discretion where the circumstances of a case fell outside of those proposed sentencing guidelines, as was the situation in Hunte’s case.

The Crown found some merit, though, in the ground that the trial judge seemed to dismiss or deny that there was provocation.

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