Pressure drops on Toots attacker

Sunday, December 15, 2013    

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REGGAE legend Toots Hibbert's plea for leniency for a man who struck him with a bottle while he performed in the United States in May, failed to sway a judge last week.

Hibbert asked the judge not to jail the man who threw a vodka bottle that struck the singer in the head and seriously injured him as he performed at a show in Richmond, Virginia last May.

"He is a young man, and I have heard what happens to young men in jail," Hibbert wrote in a letter that was read last Thursday in the Richmond Circuit Court. "My own pain and suffering would be increased substantially knowing that this young man would face that prospect."

But Richmond prosecutor Anne Lloyd, who read Hibbert's letter, ruled that the 20-year-old defendant's actions warranted a one-year jail term. That is the maximum sentence for a misdemeanor charge of assault and battery.

Judge Margaret P Spencer, after hearing testimony from several witnesses, ordered the defendant William Connor Lewis to serve six months in jail.

Lewis pleaded guilty Thursday to the lesser charge of assault and battery.

The incident took place May 18 at the Dominion River Rock Festival on Brown's Island. The 71-year-old Toots suffered a concussion and a wound that required six staples.

In June, Hibbert filed a $21 million civil lawsuit against Lewis, a former university student. In his letter, he stated that he has not performed in more than seven months and cancelled all shows due to his injury.

"I continue to suffer from extreme anxiety, memory loss, headaches, dizziness and most sadly of all, a fear of crowds and performing," he wrote. "I am not able to write songs as I did before or remember the lyrics of songs that I wrote and have performed for decades."

Lewis, who addressed the court, said he was drunk but had not intended to harm anyone.

"There was absolutely no intent to hit anyone. Mr Hibbert wasn't a target. No one was a target. I brought embarrassment to my city," he said, "and that was not my intention."

* Information gathered from Richmond Times-Dispatch





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