Five charged with Southlands assault back in custody awaiting bail hearing

Victims’ mother thanks witnesses for their courage to come forward

Published on March 14, 2016

Their Facebook pages are full of photos: groups of kids posing with bottles of alcohol and cigarettes dangling from their mouth, hands with middle fingers raised or making gang symbols or a finger gun. They compliment each other on how tough they look, peppering their posts with the n-word.

When the four teenage boys appeared in court Monday morning, it was with less bravado. One of them, when told by the judge he would not be getting out of jail until after his bail hearing on Thursday at the earliest, looked toward his mother for a second before hanging his head and starting to cry.

Many of their family members were visibly upset as well — every boy had a turn in the dock by himself, and when the aggravated assault charge was read to them, in a couple of cases their mother or father broke down.

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The boys, aged 15 and 16, were arrested Sunday in connection with an assault on a 21-year-old man March 4 in the Southlands area of St. John’s. The man, who lived at the residence, had reportedly returned home to find a family member having a party, friends say; when he tried to eject people from the home, he was assaulted.

Police say his injuries were consistent with a stabbing, and he was taken to hospital in serious condition.

All four of the teens have been charged with aggravated assault, and one of them is also facing a charge of breaching probation. They have all been remanded in custody until their bail hearing Thursday morning. Because of their age, none of them can be named.

A fifth person, 22-year-old Robert Mills, was also arrested, and was led into court in shackles and on crutches (a comment he wrote on his Facebook page March 6 says he had just gotten out of hospital after having been stabbed).

In addition to charges of aggravated assault and breaching probation, Mills, who smirked at times as he sat in the dock, has been charged with possessing a prohibited weapon, namely brass knuckles, and using them. He was taken back into custody to await a bail hearing on Wednesday afternoon.

All five accused were presented with a list of 27 people, including the victim and witnesses and in some cases their own girlfriends, with whom they are allowed no contact, directly or indirectly.

After court, there was a clash between some of the accused’s family members and friends on the escalators and landings on the way out of the building, different sides yelling at each other and blaming each other for landing their loved one in jail.

The victim has been released from hospital and is recovering. His mother, Michelle Bailey, had posted an impassioned plea on social media last week, begging for witnesses to the assault to come forward. Sunday evening, she made another post to thank them and members of the RNC.

“I can’t  thank the RNC, particularly Const. Pittman, enough for the hard work that went into making this happen,” she said of the arrests. “Also, more than anything, to the teens and others that stepped up and told the truth. I want to personally thank each and every one of you for your courage. One step in the healing process (after) what has happened to my family.”

RNC Const. Geoff Higdon told members of the media that police had launched an extensive investigation into the assault.

“Investigators relied mostly on just following tips and information they had received, as well as they conducted a series of interviews with people who had been at the party or people who had come forward with other information,” he said.

Police are still investigating the assault, and are asking anyone who witnessed it or who might have information to share to contact them at 729-8000 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS.

 

tbradbury@thetelegram.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

 

Previous story:

Accused in Southlands assault appear in court

A screaming match erupted between family members of some of the males who appeared in provincial court this morning in connection with an assault in the Southlands area of St. John’s.

Five people — four male youths aged 15 and 16 and Robert Mills, 22 — have been charged with assaulting a 21-year-old man during a house party March 4.

Once each of the accused had appeared before the judge, their family members and friends, many visibly upset, filed out of the courtroom. Outside on the escalator and landings and on the way out of the building, some of them began screaming at each other, blaming each other for landing their loved one in jail.

Three of the youth, who cannot be named, were charged with aggravated assault and one of them is also facing a breach of a probation order for his alleged involvement in the incident. In addition to charges of aggravated assault and breach of probation, Mills is charged with possession of a weapon - brass knuckles - and assault with a weapon for allegedly using them. Mills appeared in court on crutches.

The victim, who sustained serious injuries but is recovering, is a resident of the home on Mahogany Place and reportedly came home Friday night to find a party happening. It’s said he was attempting to eject people from the house when he was assaulted. Police said last week he had been stabbed.

The accused appeared in court one after the other, brought in individually in shackles. One of the youth began to cry as Judge Jacqueline Jenkins, who presided by phone from Gander, remanded him in custody until Thursday morning, when all four youth will have bail hearings. Mills' bail hearing has been set for Wednesday morning.

Crown prosecutor Natalie Payne read a list of 27 witnesses with which the accused are not permitted to have any contact.