Update: Hazel Sentenced To 9 Years

Melissa Edwards, Senior Reporter | 3 Opinions
Published: May 03, 2017 6:08 am AST
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
Matthew Hazel has been sentenced to nine years in prison, for the attempted murder of an off-duty police officer and the attempted armed robbery at CIBC First Caribbean Bank.

Justice Nicola Byer handed down her sentence during a hearing this afternoon, May 15.

For the charge of attempted murder, he received nine years; attempted robbery, four years; unlawful possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, six years; and he was reprimanded and discharged of the unlawful possession of ammunition offence.

The Judge said that since the offenses arose from the same incident, the sentences will run concurrently. Also, the Judge said that the time from February 2015 when he was placed on remand will be taken into account.

Previous Article Published May 3, 2017 - He Was A Good Boy

Before he attempted to carry out an armed robbery at CIBC First Caribbean Bank, and shot at an off-duty police officer, Matthew Hazel was a hardworking, good and dependable young man.

This was put to High Court Judge, Madame Nicola Byer by Hazel's lawyer, Mrs. Valerie Stephens-Gordon, as she pleaded with the court to have mercy on her client by not throwing the book at him.

"Give this young man a chance so that when he is released from prison back into society, he is still young enough to make a contribution...Don't throw the book at him," the lawyer pleaded during a sentencing hearing held yesterday, May 2.

"We acknowledge that the offences are serious, but that doesn't mean that the court cannot be merciful...Impose a just and merciful sentence."

In March, Hazel, 25, a native of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and a Belonger, was unanimously found guilty of attempted murder, attempted robbery, unlawful possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, and unlawful possession of ammunition.

The maximum sentence for attempted murder is life imprisonment.

It was the crown’s case that just after 12:00 am on February 16, 2015, Hazel was the masked assailant in the foiled robbery outside the bank, when Sergeant Dorville Carty was about to deposit $28,342.08 for OneMart Supermarket.

According to court records, during the incident, Hazel, who was at the time employed at the bank as a branch ambassador and receptionist, pounced on the police officer where gunshots were exchanged. The officer then pursued Hazel through the streets, where it is believed that he got shot more than once.

The assailant managed to elude the officer.

Psychological Effect/No Remorse

During the sentencing hearing, Senior Crown Counsel Leslie Ann Faulkner said that while there was no long term psychological effect on officer Carty, no doubt the night in question was a traumatic experience.

She said according to the Victim Impact Statement, two days after the incident, Carty had flash backs about the ordeal.

He had sessions with Dr. June Samuel and it also affected his family, primarily his girlfriend.

Carty was also placed on administrative leave, but is back to work.

Faulkner said that other aggravating factors include that the incident was premeditated; the high value of goods targeted; it involved a police officer; shots were fired; a mask used; and the time of the offence.

She also put forward that Hazel has shown no remorse, even after a guilty verdict. She said in the social inquiry report, Hazel maintained his innocence to the social worker.

Faulkner argued that this is a deviance to the jury's decision.

The prosecutor said that while she recognizes his right to do so, he did not at least indicate that he was sorry for what happened to Carty.

Justice Byer interjected and noted that it is Hazel's right to say he is still innocent. However, Faulkner said that there was no sense of disapproval of the incident.

In relation to mitigating factors, Faulkner mentioned that Hazel has no previous convictions and his young age. He was 23 when the incident occurred.

She noted that the fact that the victim did not receive injuries works in favour of the defendant.

Commenting more on the social inquiry report, it was mentioned that persons began to see a shift in Hazel's attitude after his father passed away.

Good Character

Meanwhile, Stephens-Gordon said her client was of previous good character as outlined by character witnesses in the social inquiry report, including his former supervisor at the bank.

She said that the supervisor clearly said that the offences are out of character for Hazel.

Stephens-Gordon passionately told the court that Hazel had a stable upbringing and there was nothing in the report which showed that he acted negatively at home, in the community, and no signs that he associated with gangs.

"Prior to conviction he was a hardworking young man...Very good character and he assisted his mother after his father died."

The lawyer said the incident was a one-off for Hazel.

She said the prison report also shows that he is respectful; has suffered no disciplinary action; and there is no indication of alcohol or drug abuse.

In relation to the claims of him not being remorseful, Stephens-Gordon asked that the court rejects that notion as one cannot be penalized for exercising his or her basic rights.

She said the court can exercise discretion and not impose life, but a shorter period, pushing for between 6-14 years.

Justice Byer will sentence Hazel on May 15.

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