By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A FORMER Bahamasair pilot was yesterday given an absolute discharge by the chief magistrate despite pleading guilty to striking his friend over the head with a beer bottle and damaging his eyeglasses following a heated bar argument and scuffle last month.
Richard Marshall, 65, stood before Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt facing one charge of assault with a dangerous weapon and one charge of causing damage concerning his July 1 argument with his friend, Godfrey Fernander, at a liquor store on Meadow Street.
During the argument, Marshall struck Mr Fernander over the head with a Bud Light beer bottle, and also damaged his eyeglasses worth $639.63, according to a summary of facts presented by the prosecution.
According to the prosecution, both Marshall and Mr Fernander were at the bar/liquor store in question around 3.30pm on July 1 when Mr Fernander, the virtual complainant in the matter, spoke to Marshall about getting a bag of ice for him.
Marshall sharply retorted by telling Mr Fernander to suck his a, according to the prosecution.
A physical altercation followed, and at some point, Marshall approached Mr Fernander brandishing a beer bottle. Mr Fernander extended an arm to keep Marshall at bay. Nonetheless, Mr Fernander was struck on his head with the bottle.
A struggle followed, resulting in Marshall falling down. Mr Fernander consequently held his friend down, adamantly telling him to stop doing what he was doing.
Mr Fernander eventually released Marshall, who then attempted to secure another bottle to attack him, according to the prosecutor. It was at this time that Mr Fernander left to notify the authorities.
The matter was reported and Marshall was subsequently arrested and interviewed, and ultimately charged.
While in police custody, Marshall admitted he was involved in an argument with Mr Fernander and that they were all drinking and being loud. Marshall agreed with the summary of facts read by the prosecutor yesterday.
As the summary of the facts were read to Chief Magistrate Ferguson-Pratt, however, she mentioned that the entire situation was "very disappointing" and that she did not expect such actions from "a senior man."
Marshall's attorney, Jomo Campbell, in pleading to the chief magistrate to exercise her lenience, said the scuffle was the result of a heated discussion about certain sensitive topics between the two, compounded by both men being "merry" at the time of the incident.
Mr Campbell noted that his client, a resident of Seabreeze Drive, is a father of two and a grandfather with a clean police record and zero pending matters in any jurisdiction.
Mr Campbell said his client is "extremely embarrassed" by the situation, and requested that the court be as lenient as possible considering the circumstances.
Nonetheless, Chief Magistrate Ferguson-Pratt said she was "lost for words" in trying to understand how, at "this age and stage," a man who has been both a "model" citizen and Bahamasair pilot could have been involved in such a matter. She also stated her view that Marshall should not drink unadvisedly.
Marshall would has been ordered to pay for the full repair of Mr Fernander's glasses, however, the court was informed that he had already submitted a payment to Palmdale Optical for Mr Fernander to have his glasses repaired.
The chief magistrate ultimately stated that it would not be "expedient" to inflict any punishment on Marshall in view of the circumstances, and discharged the former pilot "absolutely".
Marshall consequently thanked the chief magistrate for her lenience and promised her that he would never do it again before leaving the court with family and friends in tow.