Jailed mom freed
By JADA LOUTOO Wednesday, May 21 2014
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OUT OF JAIL: Kamla Ramcharan, who was jailed for burning her daughter's hand on a tawah but was released from prison after the High Courts varied the ...
KAMLA Ramcharan, the mother who burned her daughter’s hand on a tawah in June, two years ago, will not spend the next three years in prison after being released on probation for the same period during which she must attend anger management and parenting counseling.
The three-year jail term imposed by Chaguanas Magistrate Gillian David-Scotland was substituted with a three-year probationary sentence by Justices of Appeal Alice Yorke-Soo Hon and Mark Mohammed.
Parenting, they recognised, is the most challenging of all human endeavours and the balancing exercise required in disciplining a child is notoriously difficult, as they gave their reasons for varying the jail term and substituting it with a probationary sentence.
Ramcharan was also warned by Justice Mohammed, who delivered the court’s ruling yesterday, of the serious consequences of going against the court’s order. As part of the court’s order, Ramcharan must submit to the supervision of Probation Officer Suzette Joseph for three years and visit the Chaguanas Probation office once per month until November 30, thereafter she will visit as directed by Joseph.
She was also ordered to attend anger management and parenting counselling at a centre under the purview of the National Family Services and approved by Joseph at least once every two weeks for six months or as directed by the probation officer. Ramcharan must also continue to reside at her home at 10 Railway Road, Longdenville, Chaguanas, for the three years or inform Joseph and the court within three days if for some reason she changes addresses.
Joseph is also expected to visit Ramcharan’s home and provide the court with written reports every three months for the three- year period.
Ramcharan pleaded guilty to the charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and was sentenced to three years in prison for burning the hand of her eight-year-old daughter as punishment for allegedly stealing money from a classmate.
Ramcharan appealed the severity of her sentence, arguing that the magistrate misdirected herself in law and on the facts of the case.
After hearing that the child still resides with her mother, the two appellate judges ordered a Probation Officer’s report.
Mohammed, in giving the court’s reasons for allowing Ramcharan’s appeal, said while they agreed with the magistrate that the punishment was unacceptable she erred when handing down sentence as she did not give sufficient weight to the mitigating factors advanced on the mother’s behalf.
He said the appellate court had the benefit of the probation officer’s report and a more complete picture of Ramcharan’s living circumstances as a single mother of four young children - ages four, ten, 13 and 15.
Mohammed was careful to point out that while it ordered probation for Ramcharan, it did not condone her actions and unreservedly condemned the form of punishment inflicted on her child.
Ramcharan’s appeal was argued by Vasheist Maharaj and Jagdeo Singh while Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions George Busby, represented the State. Ramcharan’s probation took effect yesterday.