Machel Montano slapped with fine but spared from serving time

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Tuesday February 26, 2013 – A magistrate fined Trinidad and Tobago international soca star Machel Montano a total of TT$27,000 (one TT dollar = US$0.16 cents) yesterday, after he had been found guilty last year of five criminal offences.

A number of artistes, performers and fans flocked to the court where Magistrate Maureen Baboolal-Gafoor also imposed fines totalling TT$24,000 on songwriter and producer Kernel Roberts, the son of deceased calypso legend Aldwyn “Kitchener” Roberts.

Montano had been found guilty of assaulting Russel Pollonais, Brandis Brown, Janelle Lee Chee and Gerard Bowrin, and using obscene language outside the Zen nightclub in Port of Spain on April 26, 2007.

Montano, 36, who successfully defended his International Soca Monarch crown during the just concluded Carnival celebrations here, was fined TT$13,700 dollars and also has to pay $TT13,500 in compensation to the victims of the brawl.

Roberts, the composer of several of Montano’s hits, was also found guilty of assaulting Pollonais and Browne on the two charges of assault.

Magistrate Gafoor-Baboolal said she had taken into account Montano’s good character, and that he had made a valuable contribution to the country.

Earlier this year, lawyers representing the two men as well as from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions had made legal submissions to the magistrate on whether or not the two convicted men could be sentenced to community service for the offences.

However, the magistrate ruled that the two offences of assault occasioning actual bodily harm were very serious and the court had to send a message that such behaviour would not be tolerated.

She said that given the seriousness of the offences, she did not believe that community service should be imposed.

For the offence of common assault against Gerard Bowrin, Montano was fined TT$300 and ordered to pay TT$1,000 compensation. On the charge of common assault against Lee Chee, he was fined TT$300 and ordered to pay TT$1,500 in compensation.

The court ruled that he be fined TT$3,000 for beating Browneand also ordered to pay TT$3,000 in compensation. Montano was also fined TT$10, 000 and ordered to pay TT$8,000 in compensation to Pollonais.

Regarding the obscene language conviction, he was reprimanded and discharged.

Montano was told that should the fines and compensation not be paid by March 4, he could serve as much as two years in prison.

Roberts was also sentenced to pay a fine of $3,000, and pay compensation of $3,000 to Browne. He was also fined TT$10,000 for beating Pollonais  and ordered to pay TT$8,000 in compensation or serve as much as two years in jail.

During the trial last year, state prosecutor George Busby questioned the tolerance level of Montano as it relates to him dealing with his fans on a constant basis and the likelihood of his becoming agitated when doing so.

Busby also stated that in Montano’s evidence, he testified that at times he would also become agitated when members of his band, The HD Family, made mistakes during their performances.

“So even after 30 years of making music and performing, he would still lose his temper when the band makes a mistake. So I find it unbelievable that on that night (of the incident) he would have been able to control himself at a time when he wanted to relax and mingle privately,” said the prosecutor.(CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)