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"Havoc" as two men fight over a taxi

Friday 07 December 2018

"Havoc" as two men fight over a taxi

Two men have been given 60 hours of community service each, after they started a melee with each other arguing who was first in the queue for a taxi.

In the early hours of 28 April, Samuel Leonard, 26, from Leeds, was waiting at the Weighbridge Roundabout taxi rank with his father, who lives in Guernsey - although they were standing at the wrong end of the rank.

So when Dinis Goncalves, 25, approached with a friend, a dispute broke out over who was first in line for the arriving taxi. 

After a brief verbal altercation, Leonard threw a punch at Goncalves, hitting him hard in the face. Goncalves was then escorted away by his friend, before turning around and charging back at Leonard, because he thought the other man was still approaching him. The two men then scuffled until Leonard restrained Goncalves against the railings. Guernsey Police arrived soon after and arrested both men.

Goncalves was charged with a public disorder offence, while Leonard was charged with both the public disorder offence and assault. Leonard later pleaded guilty to throwing the first punch, on the basis that the remainder of the fight was self defence but Goncalves tried to plead not guilty to the charge, claiming self defence himself, but he was found guilty after a trial.

The first half of the incident was caught on CCTV at the taxi rank, however after Goncalves ran at Leonard, they moved out of camera shot, so some facts from the incident were left with a question mark over them. The way the charges were brought against both men also made some details difficult to place, the court heard. 

Goncalves had a tooth knocked out during the scuffle, but the court could not be sure whether it happened as a result of the first punch, or during the remainder of the fight, so the Magistrate was initially unable to decide whether Leonard was to blame for the injury or not. 

les Nicolles prison

Neither men were given prison sentences, but if they fail to complete their community service orders they will have to serve one month each at Les Nicolles.

The court also ran into a major hiccup with the scheduling of the sentencing hearing as Judge Graeme McKerrell, who had presided over the trial earlier in the year, and delivered the judgement as a result of that, was not in the island for this sentencing hearing.

Under usual circumstances, the Judge who delivered the decision would also deliver the sentence, so initially, Prosecution Advocate Calderwood applied for an adjournment until Judge McKerrell returned. Advocate Fletcher representing Goncalves also applied for this adjournment. However Leonard's Advocate, Sam Steele, contested that adjournment because his client had already had to travel to the island from Leeds, expecting to be sentenced. 

After reviewing the judgement from the trial, the log notes, and speaking to Judge McKerrell, Judge Cherry McMillan decided to proceed with the sentencing herself on the basis that it was a relatively straight-forward set of facts. She also wanted the matter to be resolved, however emphasised she would be sentencing entirely on her own decisions. 

Considering both men's relative previous good character and hard working personality, she said she would be able to give them both time in custody without hesitation, but in the end, settled on community service orders for both men.

She also contemplated whether or not to treat them equally, as although they played different parts in the "havoc" they created, they were both at fault. 

"It was an unacceptable, shocking, sudden and aggressive incident, that cannot be tolerated," she said.

"I have no doubt that you are both at risk of a sentence of imprisonment, but I am not going to send you both to prison today."

Leonard was also ordered to pay £383 of compensation to Goncalves to pay for his £700+ dental bills. He has already had some work done, but has not had the tooth replaced. Both community service orders are in direct alternative to one month in prison. 

Pictured top: Guernsey's courts. 


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