J’rad Jobe was in a celebratory mood on Tuesday. However, alcohol must have been the last thing that he wanted to see, even after six months in jail for it was his encounter with Sparrow Rum, an upgrade from his usual Guinness, that had landed him in jail last October.
Also, on Tuesday, in Kingstown, the Court of Appeal gave him another chance to walk the straight and narrow when they reduced his four-year sentence to two years, suspended for 18 months.
Jobe, who was unrepresented, decided to proceed with the appeal after his mother, who was also in court, told the panel of judges that she had been unable to secure a lawyer for him.
On Oct. 22, Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett, sitting at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, had sentenced Jobe to four years in jail after he pleaded guilty to two charges.
He had pleaded guilty to charges that on Oct. 20, 2018, he entered the lotto booth operated by the Carnival Development Corporation, as a trespasser, with the intention of committing the offence of theft.
He also told the court that he was guilty of damaging one clock, value EC$100, the property of the CDC and was reckless as to whether the damage would occur.
Jobe was arrested when police responded to information about the burglary of the lotto booth and found him asleep inside around 1:25 a.m.
Some of the plywood on the booth had been ripped off and its contents were ransacked.
During the sentencing part of his trial, Jobe tried to trick the court into believing that someone else was responsible for his crime.
Jobe had repeatedly lied to Magistrate Burnett earlier in the proceedings, saying it was the first time that he was appearing in a court.
But when the magistrate asked him if he, and others, had not appeared before him at the Mesopotamia Magistrate’s Court in connection with a pig, Jobe admitted that that was the case.
However, when his appeal came up on Tuesday, Jobe was a straight speaker, though his words were garbled at times.
He told the court that he had been a Form 2 student at the Emmanuel High School Mesopotamia when he committed the crime.
A three-member panel composed of Chief Justice Janice Pereira and Justices of Appeal Mario Michel and Gertel Thom presided over his appeal.
Jobe told the court that he did not want more time to try to secure a lawyer.
He told the appeal judges that he was asking the court to commute his sentence to time served.
He told the court that he and two older friends had been in Kingstown on the day that he would run afoul of the law.
Jobe said that while he had drunk Guinness before, it would be the first time that he would drink Sparrow –rum — he and his friends having pooled money to purchase the hard liquor.
The teen said that after some time had passed, his friends left, saying that they would return but went home without telling him.
He said he continued drinking and consumed too much alcohol, resulting in his intoxication.
He said he could remember that he fell asleep on the wall outside the Peace Memorial Hall but did not know when he went into the lotto booth, although he could recall that it had rained at some point.
The justices of appeal quizzed the youth about why he had gone into the lotto booth rather than the police station and his intentions when he went inside.
Justice Michel suggested that while Jobe fell asleep inside the lotto booth, it was not his intention to do so when he entered.
Jobe maintained that he only found out where he was when the police woke him up.
The chief justice had earlier signalled her view of Jobe’s sentence, telling Rose-Ann Richardson, who appeared for the Crown, that she thought that the sentence was excessive.
Pereira further noted Jobe’s age at the time of the crime and noted that he was inebriated, although she indicated that that was no excuse for the offence.
Richardson told the court that the trial magistrate might have considered that the defendant, in his mitigation, had concocted an untruthful story and tried to put the blame on someone else.
Justice Michel, however, noted that in his sentencing comments, the trial magistrate had mentioned all other aims of sentencing “except the rehabilitation of an 18-year-old school boy”.