Senator fought back
Sandiford-Garner recalls struggling with attacker who demanded phone
Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner today recounted to a High Court how she fought and screamed her way through a robbery just over three years ago.
She gave the evidence as the case against St Michael residents Reneko Jamal Taylor, 22, of Block 5F Division Drive, Eden Lodge and Jermaine Julia Andre Worrell, 23, of Hinds Hill, Cave Hill, began in the Supreme Court No. 5 before Justice Olson Alleyne. The two are jointly accused of robbing Sandiford-Garner, while Worrell faces a separate count of unlawful wounding.
Sandiford-Garner said it was after 11 p.m. on October 12, 2011, while on a call on her cell phone as she sat in the car park of Super Centre (now Massy Supermarket) in Warrens, that someone pulled open her vehicle door and told her to “give me the f****** phone”.
She said when the man pushed his way inside the vehicle and demanded her phone, she responded: “Wait, you robbing me?”
The man repeated his demand and she pulled back her left hand, which was holding the Blackberry Gold phone, and began screaming.
“A tussle began and I continued screaming, hoping someone would hear and come and assist me,” she said, adding that the attacker repeatedly told her to “stop screaming”.
Sandiford-Garner said she “saw something” and the person lunged at her neck with it.
“I grabbed it and still did not stop fighting,” the complainant recalled.
She said she tried to pull away what turned out to be a knife and got cut in the web of her right hand in the process. Sandiford-Garner said her phone dropped during the struggle but she still continued to fight.
When her attacker picked up the phone and “ran across the road into the foliage opposite”, she pursued him.
The complainant said she then noticed that someone wearing dark colours “ran across and converged with the first person”.
Sandiford-Garner said that on the invitation of someone, she then went into Surfside gym which was in the same complex, and her wound was dressed.
She then drove herself to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where she received medical attention.
While there, she spoke to police officers, including Constable Frank Olton. Asked by police why she fought with her assailant, Sandiford-Garner replied: “He was bony and I felt I could beat him”.
Questioned by prosecutor, Elwood Watts as to how she felt at the time of the attack, the Senator replied: “I was startled but then I became very angry.”
When she was asked what the lighting conditions were like at the time, Sandiford-Garner said there was light in front of her vehicle and she also had the light in her vehicle set to turn on when a door opened.
She added that while her attacker was wearing a hoodie and a bandana around the bottom part of his face, his eyes were visible.
When she was cross-examined by defence counsel Kendrid Sargeant, who is representing Worrell, Sandiford-Garner said she never identified his client to police. She said she did not see anyone besides the one who pulled her door.
The complainant also estimated that the struggle lasted between a few seconds and a minute.
Sandiford-Garner could not say whether the man had something in his hand when he first came to the car, nor could she say where it came from, though she recalled that the object was wrapped.
Asked how soon after the incident she got out of the vehicle and gave chase, the witness said it was “instantaneous”.
She said she was focusing on the person she was chasing but then saw another person in her peripheral vision. That was when she stopped running, about halfway across the car park.
The witness said she continued screaming even while chasing her assailant, adding that she screamed so much that she had difficulty speaking the next day.
Sandiford-Garner also recalled that lighting in the area she ran to was “a lot better” than where she was parked and even though she could not describe the face, she described her attacker’s clothing and stature to police.
The complainant said when she visited the police station a month later, she saw one young man whom police said had been found with her phone.
In response to a question from Sargeant, the woman said she did not see accused Worrell at the station that day.
When questioned by attorney-at-law Marlon Gordon who, along with Saffiya Moore, is representing Taylor, the witness agreed that she had given the police two statements, one following the incident and the other a month later.
She disagreed with the suggestion that she concocted the second statement in January to correspond with what police had told her and also because she saw two accused appear at the Magistrates’ Court.
Asked why only one person was mentioned in her first statement to police but two persons in the second, Sandiford-Garner said that after reflecting on that night’s events, she told police about the second man as soon as she remembered.
She said she could not say what the second man looked like or if he wore shoes that night but she knew that he “came out of the darkness” and the two “converged and ran together”.
Principal Crown Counsel Elwood Watts is prosecuting the matter.