High court judge Shiraz Azziz has sentenced 18-year-old Joshua Mitchell of Birch Grove, St. Andrew’s to 13 years and 6 months for the brutal killing of his 84 -year-old grandmother Dorrel Mitchell of the same address in November 2014. Time already spent would be subtracted from the total sentence. The sentence was handed down last Tuesday.
Evidence emanating from the trial had indicated that the son of the deceased discovered her body during one of his regular visits to her home at Birch Grove. A post mortem indicated she died as a result of asphyxia by strangulation.
Mitchell who was later arrested and charged for the crime was described as a young man who suffered from mental illness. He pleaded guilty to the charge of non-capital murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Judge Aziz, in making his sentence decision showed leniency on the teenager as he has already spent approximately three years on remand at Her Majesty’s Prisons.
Attorney-at-Law Ashley Bernadine who represented Mitchell said that the accused had cooperated in assisting the police in their investigations and had admitted that he and his late grandmother were involved in an altercation. He related the actual event wherein he had gone to his grandmother’s home to get something to eat, but when she refused to give him anything he got into a fight with her resulting in her death, which he wasn’t aware of at the time.
Reports from the court revealed that Mitchell had a history of mental illness and was diagnosed at the early age of six years with Schizophrenia, according to a medical doctor who described the condition as a mental disorder of psychiatric behavioural problems causing inability to cope with daily life.
Chief Officer at Her Majesty’s Prison Rupert Neckles testified to the court that since the teenager came in the prison he has made drastic improvements and has displayed commendable behavior at the prison, where he is currently enrolled in a literacy course. He even visits his mother who is warded at the Mt Gay Hospital on a regular basis.
According to the chief officer, Mitchell shows signs of willingness to be a better person and not become a repeat offender. He follows instructions and respects the rules of the prison. All reports indicate that Mitchell is cheerful, assertive and is capable of getting back in society.
The sentence handed down gave credit credited Mitchell with twelve months for the delay of the court hearing in the matter which was not his fault and eighteen months for his guilty plea.
Mitchell along with other mentally ill offenders gets weekly checkups from a psychiatrist and two registered nurses to monitor their progress while in prison.
Judge Azziz meanwhile expressed concerns about reports that young vulnerable mentally ill offenders aren’t housed in an adequate environment and are being used and taken advantage of by more seasoned offenders.
He added that although they must be punished accordingly for their law breaking, the court would not tolerate this type of treatment and they should be housed in an adequate rehabilitation facility; in a safe environment where they can be helped and be adapted back in society.