Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias, on Wednesday, made it plain to a defence lawyer that he was lucky that his client was not being sent to jail.
“That’s between you and your client. I only think imprisonment on these offences. You are lucky he got a fine,” the magistrate said to Roderick Jones when he told the court that his client did not have the full EC$4,000 he had been sentenced to pay forthwith or spend six months in jail.
Jones’ client, Iso Lynch, of Layou, had been fined a total of EC$5,250 on three traffic offences.
Lynch had pleaded guilty to a charge that on Nov. 17, 2017, at Chauncey Public Road, he drove motor vehicle P8855 while being disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence.
He had also pleaded guilty to a charge that on the same date and place, he drove the same vehicle without a policy of insurance in respect of third-party risk, and that he drove the vehicle without being the holder of a driving permit.
The court heard that about 8:45 p.m. on Nov. 17, 2017, PC Mc Barnette had reason to stop P8855, which was travelling along the Chauncey Public Road.
She asked the defendant about his driver’s licence and he indicated that did not hold one and had been disqualified from holding one for one year.
He was arrested and charged.
In mitigation, Jones told the court that his client had appeared before the court on many occasions in the past for serious offences.
He, however, said that since 2016, Lynch has been making a conscious effort to turn his life around.
At the time of the incident, Lynch was employed with the Trinidadian company that constructed the Cumberland Bridge.
It was as a result of this employment that he had cause to be driving without a licence, the lawyer said.
He said that when employees at the bridge worked overtime, a minivan would take them home.
However, on the day in question, the minivan developed mechanical problems and Lynch knew it would have been a problem to get home when they finished working at 7:30 p.m.
Jones said that on that day, Lynch had gotten several calls from his girlfriend, who lives in Campden Park, saying she was not feeling well.
Therefore, after driving the vehicle to Layou, he quickly ate something then went to Campden Park to check on his girlfriend, in case she needed to be rushed to the hospital.
Police intercepted him on his way to Campden Park.
Jones said his client was remorseful and acknowledged that he had violated a court order.
“The good book says that to err is human, to forgive is divine,” Jones said, misquoting the Bible.
“It also says live by the sword, die by the sword,” fired back Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche, who was at the bar table but did not prosecutor the matter.
Jones told the court that Lynch supports his mother and his daughter and was throwing himself at the mercy of the court.
He made an application for his client to be reprimanded and discharged with a “stern warning to stay out of the clutches of the law”.
The chief magistrate said that the charges were serious ones, but gave the defendant credit for his guilty plea, although not at the first opportunity.
She said that his lawyer had made a strong representation against a custodial sentence.
The chief magistrate said that while she would not jail the man, the fine would illustrate the gravity of the offence.
She, therefore, fined him EC$4,000 to be paid forthwith or six months in prison for driving while being disqualified from holding a driver’s permit, EC$750 for driving an unlicensed vehicle, and EC$500 for driving without being the holder of the permit.
Lynch was ordered to pay the smaller sum by Jan. 31 or spend seven weeks in prison. The smallest of the sums was also to be paid by the same date or he would spend five weeks in prison in default.
On hearing the sums, Jones said that his client had some money but was not getting close to the $4,000, triggering the magistrate’s response about him being lucky.
Lynch paid the fine before the court adjourned for the day.