Fifteen years for hacking off lover’s arms
-the case of Sonia Hinds that shocked the nation By Edlyn Benfield
July 11, 2003
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Almost three years after Sonia Hinds’ former lover hacked off both her arms in a fit of jealous rage, the 51-year-old man was yesterday sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Judgement was handed down by Justice Winston Moore after Courtney Purlette pleaded guilty to wounding with the intent to commit murder.
Sonia Hinds and Courtney Purlette in happier times
Earlier, State Counsel Kim Kyte, for the prosecution, said the couple had lived together for a period of seven years prior to the incident which occurred on August 5, 2000. On the day in question, the victim was cleaning a pair of shoes and when Purlette observed this, he had asked whether the shoes were an old pair or new causing an argument. Later that day, Purlette went to the place where Hinds worked and again raised the issue.
According to Kyte, Purlette trailed Hinds to the car park and the argument resumed and this continued until about 10.30 pm when they reached their home at Mocha Arcadia, East Bank Demerara.
The situation escalated and Hinds retreated into the bedroom after an angry Purlette had dealt her a cuff to one eye. He followed her and placed his arms around her but she shrugged him off.
Hinds then felt a lash behind her neck, Kyte said, and she told the accused to stop hitting her but he did not respond and she felt another lash. The victim turned around and immediately collapsed, at which time, Purlette proceeded to brutally chop her in the face and about the body, severing both of her arms in the process.
When Hinds cried out, “Oh God Courtney, ah dead”, her attacker jumped over her and went out of the house. In response to the neighbours’ calls, Purlette said she was sick and he was going to get a taxi. However, the neighbours soon discovered that he had locked Hinds inside the house and they kicked down the door to gain entry.
Three of Hinds’ fingers were found near the fridge, and the neighbours took Hinds and the dismembered body parts to the hospital.
Meanwhile, Purlette was dragged from a nearby trench into which he had sought to escape by some villagers who then beat him. Defence attorney Vic Puran asserted that his client had been provoked and the argument had developed after Purlette found out that Hinds had another lover. Puran said his client was further angered because the other man had sent Hinds a card.
The lawyer said his client was a Christian but had committed the act during the period in his life when he was not living a godly life.
Purlette is now a reformed Christian and has expressed remorse over the incident since his incarceration and this was evident in the fact that he had owned up to the deed, Puran suggested. He added that as a result of the beating, his client had lost sight in one eye and one of his feet was injured.
Hinds’ medical certificate described her injuries as “life threatening, leaving permanent disability and scars.” She has lost the sight in her left eye.
Before sentencing Purlette, Justice Moore told him that instead of chopping his former lover, he should have simply ended the relationship if there was evidence of infidelity. Further, the judge deemed Purlette’s actions to be “calculated” since he had been following Hinds around for the entire day. But he said he had given consideration to the length of time Purlette had been incarcerated and his remorsefulness.