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A Tobago man’s decision to not tell his friend that his wife was being unfaithful was what allegedly led to a fight between the men in 2012.

Now one of them is before the court facing a possible prison term while the other has lost partial use of his hand after being injured in the fight.

During a virtual hearing before Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas yesterday, one of the men, Anroy Manswell, 41, pleaded guilty to chopping his friend Roger Smart on the night of May 13, 2012 at Pembroke, Tobago.

While the facts surrounding what triggered the chopping incident were in dispute between the State and defence, Manswell admitted he chopped Smart and was guilty of the offence.

But even though the facts of the case were in dispute, criminal defence attorney Delicia Helwig-Robertson and State prosecutor Giselle Ferguson-Heller agreed that sending Manswell to prison would serve no useful purpose.

It was not known yesterday if Justice St Clair-Douglas will accede to the requests of the attorneys.

“A person who commits a criminal offence must pay. You cannot just walk into a courthouse and walk back out of a courthouse. It cannot be that easy. That is all I will say,” said the judge, before adjourning the matter to December 3 for sentencing.

Helwig-Robertson also submitted that her client had been able to gather $5,000 to pay as compensation to the victim but Ferguson-Heller said this was not sufficient because of the extent that the attack had affected him.

In her plea in mitigation, Helwig-Robertson said her client’s attack on Smart was not premeditated but was instead “an exchange of words that went wrong”.

She said on the night in question, Manswell was on his way to a shop in the area when Smart, who was nearby, accused Manswell of knowing what was taking place but not telling him “that his wife was giving him horn”.

Helwig-Robertson said at the time, Smart was drunk from consuming wine he had earlier purchased from the shop and prior to accusing Manswell, Smart was heard arguing with his wife on the phone.

She said after being accused, Manswell walked away and proceeded to his home but was pursued by Smart who threw the wine bottle at him.

It was at that point she said, Manswell took a cutlass from his veranda “and let him have it”.

She said while the chain of events was no excuse, it went to show that Manswell did not premeditate attacking or injuring Smart.

A different version

On the other hand, Ferguson-Heller painted a different picture of what had transpired.

She said Smart was outside the shop sipping wine when Manswell approached and asked for a cigarette.

Smart gave him one after which Manswell left to go home but returned soon after with a cutlass and attacked Smart, she said.

During the struggle, both men ended up inside the shop where Smart fell to the ground.

As he attempted to escape his attacker, Ferguson-Heller said Smart’s left hand slid over the blade, resulting in him sustaining severe injuries to four fingers.

Manswell again tried to chop Smart but Manswell’s mother, who had been called to assist, subdued her son by beating him and then helped Smart bandage his fingers.

The police were called and Manswell admitted to chopping Smart.

Smart received 35 stitches to his left hand.

Manswell also addressed the court, saying he was apologetic for what had transpired and that he could have dealt with the matter in a more peaceful way.

Helwig-Robertson also gave the court several testimonials in favour of Manswell, saying her client was a simple man who lived a simple life and never before found himself in trouble with the law.

Since the incident, the attorney said Smart and Manswell have rekindled their friendship.

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