Shonnette Gardener, who last Wednesday pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of her reputed husband was handed an 18-month prison sentence yesterday, after the judge considered a probation report which described "a lifestyle of constant abuse."
Before sentencing, Gardener could only say, "I am very sorry for what I have done... because my children are fatherless."
Justice William Ramlall, the presiding judge, imposed the sentence for the May 31, 2000 manslaughter of Ecliff Anthony Ridley subsequent to the presentation of the probation report by Assistant Chief Probation and Family Welfare Officer, Leendert Woodruff, yesterday.
Gardener, a 28-year-old mother, was initially indicted for Ridley's murder but opted to plead guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter. Ramlall told Gardener she ought to consider herself "very lucky" that her guilty plea was accepted by the court and the state."
"You gave a very detailed confession statement," the judge noted and said since the details of the state's evidence and the defence's contentions differed somewhat from Gardener's confession, were she to have been put on trial for murder before a jury, her chances of being convicted were very high.
The judge acknowledged that Gardener was a victim of "frequent domestic violence" over a period of time as indicated in the probation report. However, there was nothing to suggest that Gardener could not have left, Ramlall observed, and said her reaction in the end was "extreme."
"A sentence must act, among other things, as a deterrent. Use these 18 months ma'am, while you are in prison, to reflect upon your actions and to upgrade your skills and education, so that when you (are released) you can be of better use to your children," Ramlall told Gardener. (Edlyn Benfield)