A man accused of handling stolen goods walked out of the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court a free man on Monday without uttering a word in his defence, because of sloppy policing.
Campden Park resident Jemark “Parch Nuts” Jackson, 25, was freed of the handling stolen goods charge against him even before the virtual complainant had completed his testimony.
Jackson — who made national headlines a decade ago when police beat him into a coma — was being tried on a charge that he handled items stolen from fellow villager, Terrance Williams.
However, prosecutor Sergeant of Police Renrick Cato was forced to withdraw the charge against Jackson after Williams told the court that police had only asked him on the day of the trial to initial the item that had been recovered in October.
Williams told the court that he knows the defendant well because Jackson is a friend of his brother and frequents his home.
Williams, who is self-employed, told the court that he orders items online and sells them in Kingstown.
He stores his merchandise in his bedroom and living room at his home.
The merchandise includes smart watches, smart bracelets, and computers.
He said he checked his stocks on the night of Oct. 9, 2018, when he was preparing to go to Grenada and realised a number of items were missing.
A more thorough check on Oct. 10, revealed that while the watch boxes were packed as Williams had done them originally, several of the watches were missing from the individual boxes.
Also, a number of analog watches, smart bracelets and one computer were missing, in addition to a number of small items that were of negligible value.
As Williams was scheduled to travel to Grenada that day until Oct. 14, he made a post on Facebook, urging persons not to buy smart watches without the box, because they are stolen.
While in Grenada, William received certain information through Facebook that eventually led to Jackson.
When he returned to St. Vincent, Jackson attempted to return some of the items to Williams who reported it to the Questelles Police Station.
At the police station, sometime around Oct. 17, Williams identified several smart watches, one smart bracelet, a couple of analog watches, and the laptop as belonging to him.
However, the investigator never asked him to place his initial on the items until Monday — the day of the trial — a fact that Williams revealed in his evidence-in-chief.
Asked how he was able to identify the smart watches, Williams said they are not abundant in St. Vincent and he is one of the few persons who import then.
He said that they have no distinguishing marks but he would be able to identify them by their colour and appearance.
Responding to further questions from the prosecutor, Williams said that the police officer investigating the matter asked him the morning of the trial to place his initials on the items.
“Ahhh. There we go. This morning. They police did not do what they should have done from day one,” Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett said
He added: “Realising the error they tried to cover it.”
In response, Cato said, “My hands are tied.”
The prosecutor then sat down.
However, the magistrate told him that he had to do or say something, but could not just sit down.
Cato, however, told the court the offence has to do with exhibits, noting that the charge was handling stolen goods, allegedly Williams’ property.
He said that while Williams had gone to the station to identify the property, the police had not followed the appropriate steps.
“I am waiting on you, prosecutor,” the senior magistrate said, adding, “You have to handle matters that you have in front of you.”
Cato tried another route, asking Williams what colours were the smart watches.
“They were black, silver, and gold. I initially said that one was white but the white one was not there,” Williams responded.
Cato then asked Williams how do the watches operate and he responded, “They are basically a phone on your hand”.
“Your honour, I–” Cato said then paused.
“Prosecutor, why are your punishing yourself? You are prosecuting the matter,” Burnett told Cato.
Cato told the court that had Jackson been charged with unlawful possession he could have had more options, but noted that the charge is handling stolen goods.
The prosecutor, however, proceeded to make an application to show the watches to the virtual complainant, based on the colours he had mentioned.
The magistrate, however, noted that the colours are universal and there is nothing special about them.
The prosecution again asked if the court was not granting the application to show the watches to the witness.
“No. He has not given enough features. The most important thing that should have been done from day one was not done. You know that as well,” the magistrate said.
At this point, Cato withdrew the charge against Jackson.
At this point, the magistrate said, “Mr. Jackson, because of bad policing, that’s what it was, the matter has come to an end.”