A man from the small village of Marquis in St. Andrew has been ordered to spend the next 15 years of his life in prison for the crime of Arson, after admitting to setting ablaze, the house of his estranged wife, while she was asleep, in what has been described as a crime of passion.
The sentence was handed down to Christopher Mitchell last week Wednesday, by Guyanese-born High Court Judge, Madam Justice Paula Gilford, at the No. 2 High Court on The Carenage in St. George’s.
The convicted man, who escaped a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, also has to re-compensate his wife for the house, which is valued at approximately $125, 000, within 5 years of his release from the Richmond Hill Prison.
Crown Counsel in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Howard Pinnock told the court that the estranged wife of the now convicted man, Patricia Mitchell, has alluded to losing everything as a result of the fire and demanded compensation for her losses.
Mitchell was 52 years old when he committed the crime on March 23, 2014, and pleaded guilty to the offence on October 16, 2017.
In mitigating his case, seasoned criminal defense Attorney George Prime noted, that prior to this incident, Mitchell was a “good family man” (and) a “perfect law-abiding citizen,” and one with a clean police record throughout his life.
According to the facts presented to the court, only days prior to the incident, Mitchell had threatened and tormented his wife of more than 20 years and mother of his 8 children, accusing her of having an affair with someone else and removed all his belongings from the house.
Mitchell is said to have attacked his wife in a previous incident, which led to her being rescued by a neighbour.
The female high court judge heard that the accused took cushions from chairs in the house, setting them on fire and placing them in each room of the house while his wife was asleep.
The wife told police investigators that she became aware of the house fire, when a neighbour came and woke her up.
Attorney Prime told the court that Mitchell apparently, “lost total control” and went into “emotional shock,” which resulted in the commission of the crime’ and asked for leniency on his behalf.
In handing down the 15-year sentence, Justice Gilford expressed concern that the convict, who seems to be unable to deal with emotional stress, will re-offend if put in a similar situation.
The female judge also ordered him to undergo counselling in anger management and self-control, and in default serve a further 2-year prison term.
Speaking with THE NEW TODAY following the sentence hearing, the affected woman, Patricia Mitchell expressed satisfaction with the 15-year sentence handed down and the compensation package that was awarded to her.