By Latrishka Thomas
After a lengthy hearing which involved reviewing video footage from a gas station on March 18, a man accused of assault and battery against activist Mary John was fined $500.
When Patrick Laurent appeared in St John’s Magistrates’ Court, yesterday morning, he pleaded guilty to assault and not guilty to battery – but later that afternoon he changed his plea to guilty to battery and not guilty to assault.
This was despite his denial of all the charges when he first appeared in court in late March.
Nevertheless, the prosecution accepted the final pleas and withdrew the charge of assault.
The prosecution then read the facts of the case which stated that on the aforementioned day in March, the defendant was in the process of loading garbage into his truck at the Everyday Gas Station when John accused him of littering.
John then started recording the defendant and he asked her to stop, but she refused.
Thereafter, the Potters man apparently became angry and grabbed onto John’s left hand.
Subsequently, the court received documentary evidence to the contrary.
John’s medical form indicated that she had sustained an injury to her head.
The prosecution also admitted documents into evidence which showed that John had been treated for her head injury at a medical facility. There was also a receipt for the purchase of a wrist splint.
A DVD of the camera footage pulled from the service station was also tendered.
The court then reviewed the footage and Magistrate Conliffe Clarke remarked, “I don’t see any punch to the side of the head.”
Laurent’s lawyer, Wendel Robinson, also questioned the conflicting evidence.
“Perhaps those injuries must have come from somewhere else,” he said.
“What is shown on that video does not by any stretch of the imagination indicate a blow to the head,” he continued.
He further insinuated that John could have “called sick on herself” or “the doctor was misguided or the doctor’s expertise must come into question”.
Robinson continued to mitigate on his client’s behalf by stating that the 62-year-old father-of-three has no prior convictions.
The self-employed garbage collector then rose to his feet and apologised to both the complainant and the court.
Magistrate Clarke then concluded that “there is no direct causation with reference to the actions of the defendant” and the tenderness of the head and minor swelling detailed on the medical form.
“The injuries must have come from a different source,” he added.
He therefore opted not to award any compensation to John, but fined Laurent $500.
Afterwards, John told Observer that the fine is “a mockery” because it does not cover her expenses or set an example.
She also claims that she actually did sustain a head injury. “It was while I was trying to protect my phone that my phone connected with my head,” she stated.
She added that she is unable to use her hand as a result of the incident.