A woman was sentenced to two months in prison on Monday for allegedly harming a 4-month-old child she was supervising at a daycare centre in March 2017. Debra Jobe, who is responsible for overseeing toddlers at the Alphabet Academy preschool, was sentenced by High Court Justice Ann-Marie Smith.

Video evidence submitted by the prosecution allegedly showed Ms. Jobe grabbing the child by the arm and yanking him toward her. The video was circulated via WhatsApp, the court heard.

Crown Counsel Melissa Brewley said that after the incident the child cried throughout the night and expressed his pain. He was taken to a hospital the next day.

Swollen wrist and arm

According to prosecution, medical evidence showed sustained swelling in his right wrist and forearm, which was a result of a pull or twist of the arm.

Ms. Jobe was arrested on May 15, 2017, and during a police interview she described the child as being “stubborn” and prone to ignoring her instructions, the court heard. She also called her actions discipline, not abuse, the Crown said.

In the interview, she also admitted to shouting and spanking children, the court heard.

Aggravating factors

The Crown argued that the aggravating factors included cruelty to children, a breach of trust, the extent of the injury, and the inability of the child to protect himself.

Defence attorney Valerie Gordon, however, maintained, “As a parent, we sometimes do things in haste or with less patience.”

She argued that the defendant was raised in a generation when such actions were more permissible, and said that the court should account for her age, which she did not disclose.

“That was the culture,” Ms. Smith agreed before adding, “and it has to change.”

Ms. Gordon also argued that Ms. Jobe had shown remorse for her actions. She asked that the court grant Ms. Jobe, who is still employed at the Alphabet Academy, rehabilitation.

Character witnesses

Ms. Gordon called two character witnesses to the stand: Rafael Marcedes and Tashima Chalwell.

Ms. Chalwell, who has known the defendant for about ten years, said Ms. Jobe took care of all four of her children and is godmother to one of them.

She added that she was “shocked” to hear the accusations against Ms. Jobe, and she called the alleged behaviour “out of character.”

Mr. Mercedes, who has known the defendant for five years, echoed that sentiment, saying that he found the accusations “strange.”

“Maybe she made a mistake,” he added.

Apology

Ms. Jobe stood in the witness stand to say, “I want to apologise and say that I’m sorry. I love the children and my intention wasn’t to hurt him. I apologise to the court.”

Then Ms. Gordon whispered to her, “And to the mother.”

“And to the mother,” Ms. Jobe echoed.

“And to the baby,” Ms. Gordon said.

“And to the baby,” Ms. Jobe added.


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