By Alexander Bruzual
December 11, 2012 – newsday.co.tt
REIGNING Soca Monarch and Road March King Machel Montano was yesterday found guilty by a Port-of-Spain magistrate of five criminal charges of assault and using obscene language during a fracas near the Zen nightclub in Port-of-Spain five years ago.
Montano gasped in the Seventh Court when he was told, he was guilty as charged by Magistrate Maureen Baboolal-Gafoor. He stood next to performing artistes Kernel Roberts, son of deceased Calypso icon Aldwyn ‘Lord Kitchener’ Roberts, 2011 Young Kings Calypso Monarch Rodney “Benjai” LeBlanc and Joel “Zan” Feveck.
The four were jointly charged with assaulting Russel Pollonais and Brandis Brown, while Montano faced additional charges of assaulting Janelle Lee Chee and Gerard Bowrin and using obscene language during a fracas near the Zen nightclub on Keate Street in Port-of-Spain on April 26, 2007. The court was packed to capacity with relatives and friends of the four accused men who came to lend support. As the four and their relatives and friends waited in court for the case to be called, everyone appeared relaxed and there was an air of confidence that the accused would be not guilty.
Shortly after entering the courtroom at 10.10 am, Baboolal-Gafoor began reading the charges along with the corresponding verdicts which she had reached in relation to each accused man.
In relation to the charges of wounding Pollonais and Brown with intent to commit actual bodily harm, Baboolal-Gafoor found Montano and Roberts guilty. She also found Montano guilty of the remaining three charges. Both LeBlanc and Feveck were both found not-guilty in relation to the assault charges.
As the verdicts were read, the silence of the courtroom gave way to gasps of disbelief from the four accused and their relatives and friends.
Montano, Roberts, LeBlanc and Feveck started whispering among themselves. Montano’s attorney Dana Seetahal SC, quickly rose and indicated to the court that she was prepared to make a plea of mitigation. Seetahal noted that prior to this ruling, her client was a man with a clean record and no previous convictions or pending matters before the court.
She noted that since the matter was first called, five years ago, Montano has had no other brushes with the law and kept a clean slate.
Seetahal noted that Montano has been in the public light since he was eight and has been successfully representing Trinidad and Tobago at international level since then. He is, she said, a United Nations Goodwill ambassador to this country.
Roberts’ attorney Keith Scotland also delivered a plea of mitigation, saying his client’s accomplishments as well as contribution to society and local culture, are without question. “He is a family man who looks after his three children and provides for them financially and emotionally.
“He instills in them his strong spiritual beliefs. He is a financial sponsor of the Caribbean Steel Paradise, a youth steel orchestra in Morvant, and the Covigne All Stars, a youth football team in Diego Martin. He is also a motivational speaker to youths in crime hotspot areas of Diego Martin and Morvant,” Scotland pleaded.
He said Roberts had no previous conviction or pending matters prior to Baboolal-Gafoor’s verdict and asked the court if it could be so minded as to consider community service as a form of punishment for his client.
At this suggestion, Baboolal-Gafoor noted that if the court is so minded to reach such a decision, it would first need, among other things, a Probation Officer’s report on the accused. The case was then adjourned to January 17, when Baboolal-Gafoor is expected to indicate the kind of punishment to be meted out to the guilty men. Montano and Roberts quickly exited the courtroom and refused to speak to reporters on the pavement outside the courthouse. LeBlanc and Feveck maintained their support for their friends as they spoke briefly to reporters.
“While we have been vindicated in this regard (based on the not-guilty verdict), I still think this was too long in coming. It’s too long we going on with this here. As it relates to Machel and Roberts, I support them 100 percent because despite what the ruling was, in my view, we are all innocent in this,” LeBlanc said.
Roberts was also represented by attorney Daniel Khan while Feveck was defended by Larry Williams. Rajiv Persad, John Heath and Shalini Khan appeared for Le Blanc.
Throughout the course of the trial, the State has been represented by then Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Carla Brown-Antoine and George Busby. During the trial, the state led evidence from several witnesses that on April 26, 2007 Montano, Roberts, Le Blanc and Feveck were involved in a brawl with several persons near the Zen nightclub in which Pollonais was beaten unconscious.
10 thoughts on “MACHEL GUILTY”
Machel, Kernal guilty
There was no one to pump his flag outside the Port-of-Spain Magistrates Court yesterday after soca superstar Machel Montano was found guilty on four counts of assault and using obscene language. Equally, there was no “palancing” taking place as songwriter/producer Kernal Roberts was also found guilty on two counts of assault.
Machel’s sponsors stand by him
…CAL, TSTT wil wait for Jan 17 sentencing
AFTER more than five years of bitter legal arguments, repeated adjournments and hundreds of hours of testimony, reigning Groovy and Power Soca Monarch Machel Montano was yesterday found guilty of five criminal charges by a Port of Spain magistrate.
Victim: Montano deserves to be jailed
MACHEL Montano deserves some jail time for the beating he put on his victims outside the Zen nightclub in Port of Spain that night more than five years ago.
Conviction can hit Montano’s wallet
Social media networks were abuzz yesterday with comments from the public as the news of Machel Montano’s guilty verdict hit the streets.
Around 10 am Magistrate Maureen Baboolal-Gafoor, presiding in the Port of Spain Magistrates Court reached a guilty verdict for Machel Montano and one other HD Family member. Proving no one was above the law, she slammed each with a series of criminal offences arising out of an April 2007 fracas outside the Zen night club on Keate Street, Port-of-Spain.
Machel, Kernal facing jail time…Zan, Benjai get off
Gypsy ‘very saddened’
Minister of Community Development Winston Gypsy Peters is “very saddened” to hear that soca star Machel Montano has been found guilty on four charges of assault and one of obscene language.
Can Machel continue to represent?
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The conviction of soca’s only superstar, Machel Montano, and his producer, songwriter and the musician behind the Montano aggregation and success, Kernal Roberts, on serious assault and obscene language charges has had a huge impact on the national consciousness.
As could be expected, the conviction is provoking discussion and questions about the treatment Mr Montano should receive from the criminal justice system. Should he be summarily sent off to prison, as others of less important standing in the community would be, without a question being raised? Or should the magistrate work out some special dispensation for these young men who have grown up on a stage before our eyes?
That is a debate that will go on long after the magistrate determines whether there should be a custodial sentence for the two, or whether, given whatever extenuating circumstances may be considered, some form of community service would be more appropriate than incarceration. That argument will no doubt explode onto the national canvas in a month’s time.
For the moment though, the most pressing contention, for which there is no reason to wait, is whether the sponsorship deals of Mr Montano, especially those involving state agencies, should be immediately cancelled. TSTT’s management has telegraphed early its position that it will await the outcome of the magistrate’s sentencing and Mr Montano’s “plans for moving forward once the sentence is delivered.”
Caribbean Airlines and other sponsors who use the image of Mr Montano to win favour with consumers have so far remained quiet, perhaps waiting to see which way the wind is blowing in public opinion. A similar position has been taken by Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie, who has said that only when the sentence is revealed will he comment.
These positions may be ill-founded, however, if they are intended to give Mr Montano the benefit of a doubt which ceased to exist on Monday. The soca stars were not merely charged with assault this week, but convicted. They now have criminal records.
What is called for is an honest, considered response with regard to whether Mr Montano is fit, after his conviction on very serious charges of attacking a group of people, to be a role model for young people and other citizens and to hold the position of cultural ambassador of the nation. Will the positions of the state-owned companies and the Government be determined by the severity of the sentence? Should they?
It should be remembered that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar recently said she has the responsibility to deal even-handedly with all citizens.
If the state-owned companies and the central Government need to find out what are the international best practices with regard to such high-profile individuals and their sponsorship arrangements, they should look no further than perhaps the greatest golfer the world has seen, Tiger Woods, and his fellow American, cyclist Lance Armstrong, who were stripped of sponsorship and, in the instance of Armstrong, all of his cycling awards.
Neither of these two real international superstars was convicted of a criminal offence. Those standing on the sidelines observing this drama played out will ask why Mr Montano should be any different. Some will say that holding celebrity status places an even greater requirement on the young men to establish and hold to standards that are acceptable to the wider population.
The Government also faces a serious problem of credibility over whether it should tap the two entertainers on the wrist while continuing to hold them up as role models, at the same time that the security forces and courts of the land hunt down and jail no-name young criminals.
A falling star?
Wednesday, December 12 2012
Soca Super Star Machel Montano will return to the Magistrate’s Court in January to learn what will be his sentence following a guilty verdict on assault charges. His trial, along with his friends and colleagues, has been ongoing for some five years now.
Machel and fellow performers Kernel Roberts, Rodney “Benjai” LeBlanc and Joel “Zan” Feveck had been charged with criminal charges of assault and using obscene language outside of the Zen Nightclub in April 2007. A packed courtroom heard the verdicts read out by Magistrate Maureen Baboolal-Gafoor and there were audible gasps of disbelief from the four and their families and friends.
They had been charged with assaulting Russel Pollonais and Brandis Brown, while Montano was additionally charged with assaulting Janelle Lee Chee and Gerard Bowrin, and of using obscene language. The incident outside the nightclub had followed an incident inside the club where the accused apparently had an argument with the victims and a drink had been splashed or spilled upon Montano.
Upon announcement of the guilty verdict, Montano’s attorney, Dana Seetahal, SC, and Roberts’ attorney Keith Scotland rose to make pleas in mitigation before sentences were announced. Magistrate Baboolal-Gafoor indicated that the court would consider such pleas and adjourned the matter to January 17 to receive, among other things, a Probation Officer’s report on those found guilty.
Several issues come to the fore in this matter, not the least being the behaviour and attitudes of persons in the public glare and the public’s perceptions of how they should behave, and how they should be treated if and when they do wrong. In more sophisticated societies, the courts tend to hold societies’ icons to higher standards than ordinary individuals when the icons are found guilty of offences. We have read of entertainers and sports stars serving prison sentences for incidents similar to the convictions of Montano and Roberts. And let us not forget that Pollonais, one of the victims of the assault, was beaten unconscious. However, here in TT we tend to be far more forgiving of our icons when they err. This feeling may be symptomatic of our general knowledge of local prison conditions compared with prisons in more sophisticated societies.
It has been reported that at least one of the victims has declared that Machel should be sent to prison. So with that comment already in the public domain, we have no qualms on stating our views on what the magistrate might consider as she weighs the facts of the case, and the characters of those found guilty.
We believe that prison sentences should be imposed on habitual or repeat offenders, not upon persons who have had clean records up to the time of the incident of which they were found guilty. However, this must be weighed against the severity of the crime committed, and assault occasioning loss of consciousness is a severe attack by any standard. In our reasoning, there is a wide range of censure and punishment that can be applied to Machel and Roberts. These range from prison sentences, through fines and compensation to the victims, and on to community service and probation.
Given the general knowledge of our prison conditions, we hope that the magistrate does not choose this punishment. Machel already stands to lose a lot in this matter, as do others, including the Government, which had hitched their recent “feel good” campaigns to his rising star status. We would endorse a non custodial sentence, but certainly would like to see a contrite and sincere apology from Machel and Roberts to their victims and a sizeable monetary retribution.
PM—anyone breaking the law must pay the price
Although she evaded questions about soca artiste Machel Montano’s assault conviction on Monday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday said anyone breaking the law will have to pay for their actions.
You have to pay for that
PM on Machel breaking the law
Break law, prepare to face consequences
PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday said while she admires the talent of reigning Soca Monarch Machel Montano, if he broke the law – like anyone else – he must stand prepared to face the consequences.
No one is above the law except if you are Calder Hart, just ask the DPP. Colin Partap, Machel Montano are all people who have become victims of their success.
You forgot YOUR Uncle Basdeo Panday ,Mamboo. Don’t forget dat he is a criminal that has defied the odds to begin wearing a prison outfit via skillful manipulation of the law with the interest used from stolen loot, most acquired while in power , yes? As for Marchel, I for one ain’t loosing any sleep over him , as he is smart to know what it means to symbolically sleep with de proverbial , political devil. Captain de ship is sinking!
I luved that kaiso from the ‘Mayaro , one time gerrycurl wearing , Extempo king , turn MP.’Let’s see if Marchel, when released from prison in 2025 , would start singing controversial political commentaries- just like Sugar Aloes, Chalkie, late Mystic Prowler , or Cro Cro DID , moving forward.
AHHHHH Neal , quit while you are ahead, as dat ,and a flying , white , Central,drunken Water Buffalo , you won’t ever see! Some of these Afro- Trini folks will sell their souls for that 30 pieces of silver, then once acquired ….. well, fill in de blanks.
Suspend Machel’s contract—Communications Workers Union
Suspend soca artiste Machel Montano’s contract immediately. That’s the demand from Joseph Remy, president of the Communications Workers Union (CWU), as he reacted to proposed moves by Telecommunication Services of T&T (TSTT) to keep Montano’s contract intact.
‘The show will continue’
…with or without Machel
ah not saying machel right to beat up the people and dem or he above the law but ah getting a strong feeling these people only after money .. anybody happened to see any video of this beating ? ah mean it took place outside a big time club there must of had cameras ? if sombody could tell meh there was video of this beating not so call ‘witness” then ah will believe he buss they ass for true . and another thing if it was anybody else but machel ,let’s say no money ah sure they would of take thy cut ass and go home quitely and even say thank “God” they alive …. the judge just say machel guilty not even sentenced yet and the “victims” done talking civil suite … is money they after ..not one shit wrong with them ..steuppppssss ….some vargrants should hold them and buss they ass now lets see if they will go down d same road .. ah little bit Pissed off right now so pleased excuse meh language and i ent even a machel fan ,ah mean ah like some of he music … people saying he should go to jail ? for what he ent kill nobody ..ok ..look ah hope d judge say to pay dem for there discomfort and machel please just pay the people the stinking money and move on with your life .OK
Kim,you are missing the point , no one cares!In our much beloved country, Afro-Trini folks lives are expendible, or put differently- unless one is s member of dat unmentionable , ,triumphalist nation,’then one cannot , in like manner ,claim victimhood, and therefore ,’crapuad smoke your pipe,’ to coin a common expression.
However,if what you are saying is true, and he is still force to do some jail time- unlike Basdeo de real criminal-then look at the positives fall outs that might accrue,when he is release from one of our 5 star, Isreal Khan Jr , controlled prisons, in 2025.
Hopefully, he would find a more useful ‘ humanitarian cause ,to focus some of his energies , as opposed to singing ah bunch of decadent songs, or continue to allow himself to be used/ manipulated , like a typical ,Afrikan booboole- which is the norm.
Here is a start,por ejemplo , helping the poor , and desperate lower caste amongst us ,to obtain some semblance of fair, equal playing field justice.
I am for one , am looking to do my civic duty , en la Trinity, by putting an organization together , which will focus , on what we in international Relations circles , refer to as , ‘Human Security.’
Just maybe ,I will give our Soca buddy a call, to see if I can invigle him to join a useful , post political cause,as he he won’t be gyrating on any Crnival stage soon- NO MAMAGUY!You are welcome too,Kim.
Sorry Kim,I know ,you are busy making dollars, & T&T , is a mere means to an end for you too, and you have no time for my paltry efforts ,aimed at sustainable development , en T&T.
Much luv, and long live de Republic of T&T, yes?
A typical example of violence breads violence I still remember the first time we saw the little lad step on a stage in trinidad.sence then he has been such an ambassador to the culture and the country as a whole to think that this is the legasy that he will leave is sad to say the least.As a result of the artform the he represent does’nt focus on edfying and uplifting young people any more as those of the greats(children go to school and learn well)(Trinidad is my land and of it I am proud and glad)Our culture is much more than wine and jam. I do hope that the judge would consider that this is his first offence ang give him the opportunity to learn from his mistake and let him apologise to and compensate his victim am sure something like this will never happen again with machel montano.from London Luv Yuh T+T .
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