Sat | Jun 6, 2020

Cabbie pleads guilty to whipping schoolboy in public

Published:Monday | February 10, 2020 | 12:20 AMRasbert Turner/Gleaner Writer

A St Catherine taxi operator whose belt-whipping of a schoolboy went viral last September has pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding.

He is Jeovanni McDonald of Gordon Pen.

When McDonald appeared before Parish Judge Natalie Dixon on February 3, he admitted to physically abusing the 15-year-old complainant on the outskirts of the compound of Spanish Town High.

The judge ordered that McDonald’s bail be extended until March 17 when he is to be sentenced.

Clerk of Court Yanique Hall then engaged the services of the Probation Department for a social enquiry report to be done.

Facts of the case are that on September 6, 2019, McDonald and the student had a heated argument after the cabbie’s vehicle mirror brushed the complainant.

McDonald then attacked the schoolboy, using a belt to slap him in the face and on the body.

The student fought back, flooring the taxi driver with a punch to the face.

The attack, captured in a 30-second video, drew public outrage, including condemnation from Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison and Spanish Town High principal Ventley Brown.

The principal accused the cabbie of being the instigator of the conflict, which played out amid hundreds of students after classes had been dismissed. The crush of bodies made it difficult for the vehicle to manoeuvre, Brown said, which led to the boy shoving the mirror after being struck by it.

“If you look at the video carefully, the young man could have lost an eye. It could have been worse,” Brown said.

Gordon Harrison urged adults to show restraint and maturity in confronting children with whom they have disputes.

“I see nothing wrong with other adults correcting a child. The problem that I have is the method of correction.

“I think that violence, in any form, and whether it’s coming from an adult to a child, is something that’s inappropriate,” she told The Gleaner’s sister tabloid, THE STAR, last year.