“I say at once that I am not sending you to prison, the custody threshold has not been passed. I am not banning you from the internet and I am not remotely trying to close down CMR, I think it performs a useful service to the community and it would provide a more useful service if only it and you behave more responsibly.”
Justice Roger Chapple
(CMR) Justice Chapple fined Sandy Hill a “substantial fine” of CI$3,000 and issued an order prohibiting her posting publicly using an ICT network pursuant to s.90(s) any reference or information regarding the complainant Matthew Leslie.
The judge found that a prison sentence was not appropriate in the circumstances and in what he described as “an unsual case” from the onset. He noted that in-person witnesses were not particularly useful sharing that MP Saunders spoke more of himself than of Hill. He noted that:
“Saunders spoke more about himself and neither had taken steps to inform themselves about the case, read the judgment or watch the podcast.”
In the end, their testimony was had little impact on his sentencing decision.
He said that during the trial and sentencing hearing he had an opportunity to form an impression of Hill and commented on the large volume of character references provided to the court. He said:
“I have the advantage of a huge number of character references, no less than 65.”
He picked up on the references and what those said about Hill's values. He shared that despite having numerous brushes with the law she had never been convicted before and would receive credit for previous good character.
He also noted that her loss of good character has hit her hard and that Hill was considerablely upset about loss of her good character because of the recent conviction.
He noted that the offense required consideration of the offenders culpability as a starting point and in this case there was high culpability. He described it as “all together deliberately planned and well advertised.” He noted that there was harm specifically to Mr. Leslie and more general harm and that the impact on Leslie was “considerable”.
He did provide CMR with some positive feedback and said that:
“You are a thorn and in any open democracy praise be to a thorn.”
Acknowledging CMR's contribution to the community he noted that the platform had a significant following and was useful to the community and that Hill and CMR should use its talents in the right direction to continue to be a media force. He further noted that Hill should aim her constructive comments at the institutions that may be failing the people including the police and Parliament.
He stressed that it was important for people to use the available resources to them and lodge complaints with the police. Victims of crimes should go to the police and not undermine the system.
On the second penal code equivalent charge, a plea of not guilty was entered when the prosecution offered no evidence.
The order prohibits the publication of future content in relation to Matthew Leslie and Hill has been ordered to remove existing content.
He provided Hill three months to pay the fine or six months in default. Many have contacted Hill with requests to assist with the fine and they can email her for further details.