Sonnel Hanley at court today, July 9, 2012.
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
A man who is often times seen wandering around Road Town was taken before the Magistrate's Court for punching a tourist in his face. Sonnel Hanley, 29, pleaded guilty to common assault and damaging property in court this morning, July 9.
Following an adjournment to 2:00 pm this afternoon, Senior Magistrate Valerie Stephens sentenced Hanley to six months in prison for the offence of common assault and reprimanded and discharged him on the damaging property charge.
The Magistrate also ordered that he undergoes psychiatric treatment while at Her Majesty's Prison (HMP).
Magistrate Stephens in handing down her sentence said that she took into account his guilty plea and what was said on his behalf. However, she said the incident was unprovoked and it was a tourist who was assaulted randomly. The Magistrate said that is dangerous. Further, she said that it also has consequences for the Territory in the event that other persons wanting the visit the Territory hears about such an incident. "It's quite serious."
Prosecutor Jude Hanley said that on Thursday, July 5, a security guard at the Road Town cruise ship dock telephoned the Police Station, stating that a tourist was assaulted and Police assistance was needed.
The Prosecutor said the victim, William Panorelli of New Hampshire, United States and his wife were passengers aboard a cruise ship. She said on Thursday, they went in the area of the Noel Lloyd Action Movement Park. There, his wife went to use the bathroom while Panorelli waited outside. During this time, Sonnel Hanley passed by, then turned around and punched the tourist in his face.
Prosecutor Hanley said the tourist fell backwards and as a result, his sunglasses valued at $250.00 was damaged and he received bruises.
She stated that when Police officers arrived, the tourist identified Sonnel Hanley as the person who hit him. When asked by officers why he hit the tourist, Sonnel Hanley said he did it over nothing.
"He said he hit him for nothing; for no reason," the Prosecutor stated.
She said due to the fact that the victim was onboard the cruise, he was unable to seek medical attention at the hospital and has since left the Territory on the cruise.
Prior to pleading the defendant, Senior Magistrate Valerie Stephens asked the Prosecutor if he is fit to be pleaded.
Attorney at Law Ruthilia Maximea, who was in court, offered to assist and after speaking with Sonnel Hanely, she told the court he is a BVIslander who lives with his father in Purcell Estate. She said he is unemployed.
The lawyer told the court that he does not want plead to the charges since he is medically unfit. The Magistrate then asked the lawyer if the defendant told her that he is medically unfit. The lawyer said it is in the court's hands as to what to do.
The Magistrate then read the charges to Hanley and he pleaded guilty.