A 31-year-old man from Beetham Gardens, who cursed at and kicked flood water unto Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds during an incident, last month, has been fined $400.
Richard "Snake" Marcelle, of 17th Street, Beetham Gardens, was fined by Magistrate Sanara Toon-McQuilkin in the Port-of-Spain Magistrate's Court after pleading guilty to assault by beating and using obscene language during a hearing, this afternoon.
Marcelle, an employee of the Port-of-Spain City Corporation's Drainage Department, was also charged for possession of five grammes of marijuana, that was found on him when he was arrested at his home, last Friday.
Marcelle also pleaded guilty to that charge and was reprimanded and discharged by Toon-McQuilkin.
In his mitigation plea, Marcelle's lawyer Richard Clarke-Wills claimed that his client attacked Hinds due to frustration over unfulfilled promises Hinds alleged made to residents of the community in the past.
"He (Hinds) made promises and none were kept. He (Marcelle) was motivated by indignance," Clarke-Wills said.
Clarke-Wills claimed that Marcelle intended to kick the water at Hinds, but did not think that he would make contact with his intended target.
"If Mr Marcelle was intent on soaking the minister there was nothing stopping him from doing that," Clarke-Wills said.
That claim was questioned by Toon-McQuilkin, who asked: "He did not know how good his aim was?"
Clarke-Wills also claimed that Marcelle did not think that dousing Hinds with flood water would lead to him being charged with assault.
"While I accept that ignorance of the law is not a defence, he (Marcelle) did not consider it to be a criminal offence," Clarke-Wills said. Clarke-Wills admitted that his client has a pending case for firearm possession but said he had a presumption of innocence.
In considering the appropriate sentence for Marcelle, Toon-McQuilkin considered his early guilty plea as well as the fact that he spent almost four days in police custody before he was brought to court.
She warned Marcelle to be cautious when making decisions due to frustration.
"Although it seems to be simple offences, it is punishable by imprisonment," Toon-McQuilkin said as she fined Marcelle $300 for assault and $100 for obscene language.
In dealing with the marijuana charge, Toon-McQuilkin considered that he (Marcelle) had no previous convictions for drug trafficking as well as the fact that he was only arrested with a small quantity of marijuana.
Marcelle was given one week in which to pay the fines otherwise he will face three weeks in prison.
The water-dousing incident occurred on August 14, while Hinds and Local Government councillor Akil Audain were touring areas of the community affected by heavy rainfall.
The duo was speaking to residents along 16th Street when they were confronted by a group of men, who kicked water on them while their backs were turned.
Hinds and Audain confronted the men over the incident but were forced to flee as the men, who were armed with buckets, chased after them.
Hinds made a report of the incident to police the following day. The incident was captured by media personnel, whose camera footage was used by police to identify and charge Marcelle.
Marcelle was also represented by Celeste St Louis.
- by Derek Achong