A woman who pleaded guilty to cruelty against a two-year-old child has been ordered to serve 80 hours of community service at a home for the elderly.
Failure to complete this task within a year will result in Jillian Noel, 49, serving a six-month prison term.
The sentence was handed down by Justice Kathy Ann Waterman-Latchoo in the San Fernando Second Criminal Court.
Noel broke down in tears, saying, “Sorry for all I have done.”
The child, now 13 years old, no longer stays with her but she expressed a desire that he and his siblings develop a relationship. According to a medical report, the injuries on the child’s body were likely inflicted by fingernail scratches, cigarette burns and a blunt object using mild to moderate blunt force.
In passing sentence, the judge said the injuries would have been inflicted over a period of time since there were scars, fresh injuries and some that were already healed or healing.
Madame Justice Waterman said the charge is not that she abused the child, but that she did not do sufficient to protect him.
“This was a vulnerable human being and was in need of protection. The law has to look upon that very seriously,” said the judge.
The aggravating factors of the offence and the offender included the child’s age, his vulnerability, the severity of the injuries and Noel’s age.
Noel had no previous convictions or pending matters.
From the reports received from the probation officer and a community service officer, Noel was in an abusive situation at the time of the incident.
The court found that it would not have been beneficial to two of Noel’s children who are living with her if she were to be imprisoned.
Noel was charged in 2008. At that time the maximum penalty for the offence was two years. It has since been increased to ten years.
The facts presented by state attorney Katrisha Ambrose were that the child began living at a children’s home in Point Fortin a few days after he was born. In September 15, 2007, he went to live with Noel and her four children at Pepper Village, Fyzabad.
One of the volunteers at the home kept in contact with Noel and would take the child to his clinic appointments.
When he went to spend the weekend at the volunteer’s home in February 2008, the volunteer noticed that he had a cut under his foot.
In May 2008 the volunteer went to visit the child at his home and observed that he was dragging. He had a burn on his index finger, his leg was black and blue and he had a fever. Noel told the volunteer that he had broken his leg. She offered to take the child to the hospital but the accused said she would take him.
In July 2008 when a secretary at the children’s home picked up the child at his home to take him for a fun day at a primary school she noticed he had scars and bruises about his body.
Concerned that child also seemed withdrawn and sad, the secretary spoke to PC Karl Taylor then assigned to the Community Police who was at the event.
When she took the child back to his home, she asked Noel if she could take him to the children’s home to spend some time with the other children and Noel agreed.
Cpl Worrell and WPC Skeete of the Community Police visited the home and the child was taken for a medical examination and treatment at the San Fernando General Hospital.
The child had numerous injuries, including multiple circumferential scars over his mouth, chest, right leg and buttocks. He also had several fractures of the right hand, as well as, multiple scratch-like marks about his body.
He was later placed in a children’s home.
Noel was represented by attorney Martin Joseph.
She is to perform the community service within a year at St Vincent De Paul Society in San Fernando.