By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
YESTERDAY’S conclusion of the Supt Clayton Fernander shooting case ended with Excel Josey and Maurice Armbrister being sentenced to 17 and 19 years in prison respectively for the attempted armed robbery and attempted murder of the senior police officer.
They had no visible reactions to the sentences imposed by Justice Carolita Bethell who, moments earlier, noted that the aggravating circumstances surrounding the attack outweighed any mitigating points raised on their behalf.
She acknowledged that while they were both young individuals and had no previous run-ins with the law, the commission of the offence was premeditated as they followed Supt Fernander to his home, approached him unmasked and shot him while trying to rob him of his chain.
Josey, 23, received an 18-year prison sentence for attempted murder and 15 years for attempted armed robbery while Armbrister received 20 and 15 years for the respective offences.
Armbrister, who was also convicted of possession of an unlicenced firearm and possession of ammunition, was also sentenced to 10 years in prison on each of these charges.
Justice Bethell noted that the sentences were to run concurrently and that the year the pair spent on remand would be substracted from their sentences.
Wayne Munroe, Armbrister’s lawyer throughout the proceedings, spoke to The Tribune about the sentences which he said was “within the tariffs.”
“Judges sentence within the established penalties that was established by the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council. The judge had the tariffs from the Court of Appeal in the Ebenezer Sherman matter with the armed robbery and attempted murder from Cable Beach and she stayed within the tariffs. That’s what judges are supposed to do,” he added.
When asked about the next course of action, Mr Munroe said he “will have to take instructions and see what he wishes to do about it.”
“I cannot see much of a complaint about the sentence, but you never know. We’ll just have to take his instructions about the convictions because as she said, he maintains his innocence,” he concluded.
Josey, 23, and Armbrister, 24, were convicted in February of the late-night attack on Supt Fernander.
Supt Fernander was shot multiple times in the arm and upper body when two masked, armed men confronted him shortly after he pulled up to his home in the St Vincent Road area on April 10, 2013.
Last month, in the initial sentencing hearing, Supt Fernander urged the court to sentence the two men to life in prison. However, the lawyers for Josey and Armbrister asked the court to exercise mercy.
In probation reports presented to the court, Josey owned up to his involvement and expressed remorse for his actions while pointing at Armbrister as the mastermind behind the evening in question.
Armbrister, however, maintained his innocence as he did throughout the trial.
Last week, Justice Bethell had given defence and Crown counsel 24 hours to submit available case authorities relating to the consideration of prison conditions while dealing with sentencing for serious offences.
It arose due to a letter from prison authorities describing the conditions the two men had to endure while on remand, such as not having beds to sleep on.
Before noting that the aggravating circumstances surrounding the attack outweighed any mitigating points raised on their behalf, Justice Bethell said that it was “unacceptable in a civilised society” that the same prison conditions complained of in 1999 “endures today.”
Justice Bethell echoed the sentiments of past judges that “most people will find it distressing and degrading if they spent a day in these conditions that these men endure.”
“I echo this because these young men will one day re-enter society. Hopefully they will be rehabilitated and reformed and retake their place as better human beings,” she added.
Following the sentence, Supt Fernander told The Tribune that he and his family were not only pleased with the outcome of the case, but the handling of it as well.
“I want to say to our investigators and prosecutors, we have to be tight with our cases from beginning to end.
“As you followed this trial, one of the accused persons has now admitted to the offence. You can’t leave anything unturned because you find that individuals will try to use and beat the system for their benefit. So I just want to encourage them that when they conduct their investigations do their preparations and come to court, we have to be ready and we have to have a tight case because individuals will go as far as they can to beat the system.”
In thanking his colleagues and the public for their continued support and well-wishes, Fernander stressed to Bahamians that they should support their police and remain encouraged.