Fri | Apr 12, 2024

Sentence delayed for convicted killer of Reggae Girl Tarania Clarke

Published:Monday | March 4, 2024 | 12:07 AMAinsworth Morris/Staff Reporter
Tarania Clarke, Reggae Girlz player who was stabbed to death in Half-Way Tree.
Tarania Clarke, Reggae Girlz player who was stabbed to death in Half-Way Tree.

Courtney Rowe, attorney-at-law representing Rushelle Foster, the woman found guilty of manslaughter for the 2019 stabbing death of Reggae Girlz midfielder, Tarania ‘Plum Plum’ Clarke, wants his client to receive a non-custodial sentence in the matter.

The 23-year-old national footballer, who was also the captain of the Waterhouse Football Club’s women’s team, was stabbed with a knife during a dispute over a cellular phone in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew on October 31, 2019.

Foster was originally scheduled for sentencing last Thursday at the Home Circuit Court, but, given references and suggestions from Rowe that a non-custodial sentence be levied, Justice Leighton Pusey delayed the sentencing until March 15.

“I am asking that in your deliberation of the sentence, that you look to the lower end of the spectrum and start certainly at a lower range and a lower starting point. When you look at the social inquiry report it indicates that she was brought up in a nuclear family. She had good upbringings,” Rowe said, of which the judge interrupted by saying, “I’ve read the report”.

“The report indicated, and I’d like you to take into great consideration, that she recognised the impact and consequences of the offence ... Ms Foster is not one to be considered a contact with negative peers or criminals associates. Ms Foster is stated as being literate, employed and skills trained, and I ask that you find that she is someone that can be and is fit to be considered someone possible for rehabilitation,” he said.

Rowe said the foreman, who stood on behalf of the judges of the facts, indicated that the jury did not find that Foster had an intention to kill Clarke, thus his request for her to get the least possible sentencing.

“If for the offence of manslaughter, which I’m saying is guideline references as voluntary manslaughter, the starting point is five years, I ask that your Lordship in considering a sentence, start with a lower range ... given that the verdict is really that of involuntary manslaughter based on the utterance of the foreman on behalf of the jury,” he said.

IN FAVOUR OF REHABILITATION

Rowe then continued with his arguments in favour of rehabilitation for the offender.

“I also ask that in seeking to promote retribution, deterrence, prevention and rehabilitation, your Lordship gives credence to the words of Justice of Appeal McDonald Bishop ... where she emphasised the need for the sentencing judge to keep in the mind, the objective of sentencing against the background of the nature of the seriousness of the offence, the circumstances surrounding its commission and the personal circumstances of the offender,” Rowe said.

“Ms Rushelle Foster was tried before the court for the offence of murder. She was found not guilty of murder, but instead of manslaughter ... I’m confident that your Lordship, in pronouncing the sentence, will give thought to the sentencing guidelines for judges of the Supreme Court and the Parish Court,” he said.

He said the starting point, based on the guidelines, is usually five years.

When Rowe questioned the judge as to why there would be a delay given that Thursday was the scheduled date for the sentencing, Pusey said, “Mr Rowe, you mentioned law. You had particulars you referred to. You would not expect me not to have considered them seriously, and it means if I consider them seriously, I will take some time to consider them.”

Prior to the discussion, Rowe called on a witness, paralegal clerk Maureen Jonas Lynch, a little after a minute from the start of the proceedings, and, before he started his plea, of which the judge agreed to hear for six minutes, but only four minutes were used.

Lynch testified that she knows Foster “from she was born”.

“I don’t have any challenge with her, and she growing up in our community, we have never had any challenge, violence or any bad [with her],” Lynch said.

She noted that she was aware of the offence Foster has been found guilty of, and when she heard about the conviction, “it was really a sad occasion for the family”.

“Nobody in the family has ever had this challenge, and it was really sad ... She is not a bad person. It’s just an unfortunate situation happened,” Lynch said.

She asked the court to have “some leniency on her, seeing that she is not a violent person”.

Following her testimony, Foster was asked to stand in the prisoners’ dock, where it was reiterated to her that she was found guilty on January 18 and she was asked if she had anything to say, of which she indicated to decline.

Prior to standing and during the proceedings, the young woman repeatedly shook her left leg while wearing a mask, fashionable tiger print glasses, white blouse, blue jeans and burgundy scarf, and a single parted creamed hairstyle caught in a ponytail.

The social inquiry report on Foster, dated February 26, 2024, forms part of the records and purposes of sentencing. Also, the antecedent report of Foster which confirms that she has no previous convictions, done on January 8, 2024.

ainsworth.morris@gleanerjm.com