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I'M SORRY

As February 25 sentencing approaches Machel expresses regret to victims of assault outside nightclub:

By Nigel Telesford

Soca star Machel Montano has apologised to the assault victims involved in the fracas outside a nightclub in Port of Spain in April 2007.

Finally freed from the burden of competition, Montano was last weekend able to take his mind away from the stage and Carnival 2013.

The double Soca Monarch winner was found guilty on four charges of assault against Gerard Bowrin, Brandis Browne, Janelle Lee Chee and Russell Pollonais on December 10 last year.

He was also found guilty of using obscene language during the incident which took place outside the Zen nightclub, Keate Street.

Montano, along with songwriter Kernal Roberts, the son of calypso icon Lord Kitchener; Joel "Zan" Feveck, a member of Montano HD Family; and Rodney "Benjai" LeBlanc were all charged with a series of criminal offences arising out of a fracas outside the nightclub.

Roberts was also found guilty on two charges of assault while Benjai and Feveck were found not guilty.

Montano will be sentenced on the five charges on February 25.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Express, Montano took time to reflect on the last year and issued an apology to the victims of the incident at the Zen.

"Now that it has all come to an end," he said, "I take the time to reflect and I admit it has been an emotionally demanding year for me, to say the least. I travelled to different continents to record, completed two albums, toured the world and dealt with the unfortunate five-year court case before me. I am grateful to my family, friends, fans and well-wishers for all the support I have received.

"I'd like to express my regret and apologise to the victims and their families for the series of events that have affected their lives over the past few years. The actions on that day five years ago have produced unintended consequences and for that I am deeply sorry. My hope is that we learn from this unfortunate incident and become pillars in our communities to ensure these calamities never happen again."

Montano expressed humility and wonder in his ability to "still be relevant" in the industry and praised the works of the younger generation of artistes.

"What an amazing season it was!" he said. "Great music and art from all. There were many great songs from all the known soca stars and also the up and coming artistes like Cassie, Lyrikal, Yankey Boy, KI, Ravi B and more, which added great flavour to Carnival 2013. I am humbled that after more than 30 years of being in the public eye, I can still be relevant and also help support the talent and future of our music."

Montano also extended congratulations to Road March winner Austin "SuperBlue" Lyons.

"As I reflect on my season, I am very happy to have retained my titles in the Power Soca Monarch (which he shared with SuperBlue) and the Groovy Soca Monarch. I thank my entire team for making this dream a reality. The Power was quite a challenge and I salute SuperBlue for giving me a gladiator-like battle. It was great fun for me. As for the Road March, I say hats off to Super. We were all moved by his return to competition and performances. He is an iconic legend and deserving of all the fruits of his labour. I am truly happy for him," Montano said.

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