Desmond Browne, 42, has spent more time in jail than out. On Thursday, he was sentenced to spend a further 17 years behind bars for midday armed robbery in Kingstown five years ago. (iWN photo)

A man who recorded his first criminal conviction at age 14, then racked up nine more before he was first jailed three years later, has blamed obeah (witchcraft) for his life of crime.

For his latest crime, a high noon robbery, in Kingstown, in which he discharged a firearm at his victim’s head, Desmond Browne, 42, of Largo Height, will have to serve 17 years of his 30-year jail term.

According to the social inquiry report presented to the court, Browne offered obeah as one explanation for his life choices, Justice Brian Cottle said at the man’s sentencing hearing at the High Court, in Kingstown on Thursday.

Browne told the social worker who prepared the report that he had stolen money from a market vendor when he was a young man and the victim cursed him, saying he would never stop going to prison until he dies.

Justice Cottle said it appears that this belief has guided Browne’s life, as he seems to be trying to make sure that the female market vendor’s prophecy is fulfilled.

Last month, a nine-member jury comprised of six females and three males found Browne guilty that on March 27, 2014, in Kingstown, he robbed Desmond David of one gold chain, value, EC$2,000.

He was also found guilty of three other charges, namely, that on the same date and place, he discharged a loaded firearm at David; had in his possession a firearm, with intent to cause injury to David; and damaged one glass pane at Oriental Palace, value EC$165.

In mitigation, Browne, who did not have a lawyer, asked the court “for a little mercy, please”.

He said his mother has since died and he and his brother lived together.

The man said that his sister visited him in prison on Wednesday saying someone had broken into the house and stolen the flat screen television.

In handing down his sentence, Justice Cottle noted that Browne has been found guilty after a full trial.

The facts of the case are that the complainant was near Little Tokyo Bus Terminal shortly after midday speaking to a friend, when Browne went up to him and said “Yow!”

As David turned, Browne pointed a firearm in his face and pulled the chain from his neck.

Browne then pointed the firearm at David’s head and pulled the trigger, discharging a round.

The bullet did not strike David but broke the glass pane at the store.

Browne then fled the scene on foot and while doing so, he was observed by a female police officer and a former associate who happened to be in the area at the time.

He was arrested the following day but police never recovered the gold chain or the firearm.

However, the pendant from the chain was found near the scene of the robbery.

The judge said that the social inquiry report shows that Browne has a long criminal record of 26 previous convictions.

Most of those convictions were for theft and burglary, but he also had been convicted of threatening to discharge a firearm at someone.

Justice Cottle said that the aggravating features are that the offence was carried out in broad daylight on the streets of Kingstown and a firearm was used

He said that the complainant could easily have lost his life or someone else could have been shot or killed.

The gun has not been recovered, the judge further noted.

Justice Cottle said his search for mitigating features of the crime was “in vain”.

In considering the character of the offender, the judge said that Browne’s “career in criminality” began in 1991, when he was just 14 years old and was convicted for burglary.

The court imposed a sentence of corporal punishment.

“That clearly did not work,” Justice Cottle said, adding that three years later, after racking up his 10th conviction, Browne was imprisoned for the first time.

The judge said that looking at Browne’s record, it seems that he had spent more of his life in prison than outside

The last sentence was for 24 months imprisonment, beginning in 2017.

The judge said that the man’s record shows that his prospects for rehabilitation are slim.

“And despite the eternal spring of hope within the human breast, I feel only despair at the prospect of rehabilitation for you,” Justice Cottle said.

He said that the victim was a sailor who worked in various foreign ports and was especially traumatised to be robbed at gunpoint in his homeland.

After the robbery, the victim refused to leave his home for many months, the judge said, adding that he hopes that David has since benefited from some counselling and is showing signs of improvement.

David was overseas at the time of the trial and did not testify.

For the robbery, he sentenced Browne to 17 years in prison, five years for discharging the firearm at David, eight years for possession of a firearm with intent, and six months for damaging the pane of glass.

The sentences will run concurrently.

13 replies on “Robber blames obeah for life of crime”

  1. The sad part is that this man will probably only spend 5 years in prison, then, we in society will have to wonder what he is up to when he is again released upon us. In my opinion that is not “tough on crime”.

      1. Vincy “Lawyer” Are you telling me that there is no chance he will get out before that time based on “good behavior” as so many others do? Are you a lawyer or a kid on his computer in his mom’s basement?

    1. It was a simple English question that I asked and was hoping for a well thought out response so I could have said more, hoping I fully understood your initial comment. Now, I see that your infantile response requires no further attention.

      My last child has a better grasp at questions and answers than you!

  2. Annis Creese says:

    The obeah curse should disappear after 17 years. He was lost before he was 14. I doubt that curse remained as he was a child.He certainly needed all types of help as a youngster, but did not receive such.

  3. Caribbean Joe says:

    I know “Joey “ growing up . Sad to say he had a hard time , even from his mother , whom he was not the most favourite..
    Sorry to see him in that state .

  4. It is so sad to learn of this sentence for my nephew. I could only just pray and hope that after 13 years of imprisonment he will use the time to reflect and hopefully turn his life around.

  5. What obeah nonsense, balderdash! This fellow is just a profoundly bad individual who needed to reform his ways! The justice system now, for its part, needs to protect the rest of us from his extreme antisocial behaviour!

  6. Whenever someone commits a crime they seek to blame it on someone or something else in order to avoid responsibility. We also see that politicians have a similar mindset when they make mistakes. A politician will either try to rescue the mistake by making it look like it is not a mistake or blame it on another nation, the weather or anything but themselves. In the case of a politician, if they take responsibility for thier mistakes, thier career can end. If a criminal takes responsibility thier “better” career may just be beginning. This may be why politicians often develop worse personality characteristics, (vengeance, greed, narcissism, etc…) than the normal citizen.
    WE ARE LIVING IN A WORLD WHERE WE AVOID RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR ACTIONS. IT TAKES MORE CHARACTER TO ADMIT THE MISTAKE AND TAKE ACTIONS TO CHANGE… but this is rarely seen today.

  7. Gus Maecock says:

    Let’s face reality for a moment. Obeah (witchcraft) exist. Jamaica is currently seeking to legalize it, so let us not play so innocent or ignorant. The other thing is generational curses. When parents or ancestors involved in these dark practices for their own benefits, they automatically opened portal for demonic entrances into the lives of their children. There is no free lunch in the Kingdom of Darkness. Finally, when parents and others in authority pronounced negative (curse words) upon their children, these words then develop roots and have negative consequences upon ones destiny. How many times we’ve heard: ” you’re stupid”, ” you’re not going to come out anything good in life”. I strongly believe that we are now seeing the results of our ignorance.

  8. David Wilson says:

    Make st Vincent and the grenadine save again why should anyone feel sorry for a criminal it is always something or some one else fault for their act of crime you and you alone is responsable for your action the man had a choice like everybody. his choice is to be a criminal no one force him into a life of crime make st Vincent and the grenadine safe again thanks to the court and the police for doing their job .thanks

  9. For those who don’t believe that witchcraft exist, it does. I’m not saying this to justify his actions, but sometimes or most times the sins of parents do fall on the child or children. In most cases this is the results, all I have to say to the general public, is to pray for our young people tjing are not like before. Pray for us only tje almighty can truly deliver us.

  10. My dear KENROY GUY let there be no misunderstanding as to what our Bible means and teaches of God when it says at Exodus 34:7 New King James Version (NKJV) “ keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

    Indeed, it would be thoroughly wrong for God to punish say “B” for the crimes of “A”! Therefore, what the text is seeking to convey is this message!

    Where individuals, let us say the fathers, “A” departs from God then God too departs from them and even from their children too.

    To this end, where Vincentians have followed the western world and into this post Christian society that we now find ourselves, the passage is saying, do not be in anyway at all surprise when God abandons us likewise.

    As individuals we are totally responsible for our own bad behaviour. To that end, no man will be punished for the sins of another, though he/she could be held accountable for not warning the culprit of their ungodly behaviour.

    Sadly, KENROY GUY our Churches are failing in their duty to warn our whole society and thus would be sure held accountable for their dismal failure. In this case, they are the fathers whose ungodliness, are now being visited upon this generation and also upon the generations to follow.

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