A national under-23 footballer was, on Tuesday, bonded for one year for receiving for himself two pairs of shoes, which he knew or believed to be stolen or dishonestly obtained.
Jaseem James, 18, pleaded guilty to the charge at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court.
When James was arraigned, he did not immediately answer to the charge but proceeded to tell Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett that he had found the items at the Campden Park Playing Field.
James was not then represented by a lawyer.
He was charged with dishonestly receiving for himself, one black pair of Adidas Superstar High Top shoes, valued at EC$250; one pair of neon green shoes, valued at EC$400 and one portable charger, valued at EC$136.
After hearing the man’s explanation, the magistrate told him to return to the prisoner’s bench, adding that if a lawyer comes to court, he would ask the lawyer to advise the defendant on how to plead.
Sometime later, counsel Grant Connell arrived in court and the magistrate asked the lawyer to advise James.
After the lawyer spoken with James, the national athlete pleaded guilty to the charge.
According to the facts read by prosecutor Police Constable Corlene Samuel on Feb. 28, police launched an investigation into a report of a burglary in which three pair of shoes had gone missing as a result of a burglary.
On March 1, the complainant saw someone in a pair of shoes that resembled his missing pair.
This information was communicated to the police and the investigation led to the defendant.
When questioned, James told police that someone had sold him the shoes.
The police showed the complainant the shoes and he identified them as his.
James told the police that he had another pair of shoes in his possession and handed them over to the police and the complainant also identified that pair of shoes as his.
He also identified a black portable charger as his property.
James was cautioned and told the police that he had found the shoes in a black book bag at the Campden Park Playing Field.
In mitigation, Connell noted James age and the fact that he had no previous conviction.
He said that the man pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and was extremely remorseful.
The lawyer said that James assisted the police.
He said James is also a member of Hope International and plays in the
The lawyer said it was poor judgement that caused the youth to go off on a tangent.
Connell said that the defendant is a national footballer who plays with the Under 23 team.
“He has a lot of talent,” he said, adding that what sport can do for the development of people. Football is the game of the people, the lawyer further said.
“I used to try that with tennis,” Connell said, adding that he always placed in the mind of his young charges that they should see the tennis ball not just as a ball but also as a vehicle to achieve their goals in life.
“But others were not of the similar mind-set to achieve that,” he said
and asked the court to be lenient on his client.
Connell asked that given “the corrosive effect” that a custodial sentence and a criminal record would have on the youth that section 37 of the Criminal Code be applied.
This section allows the court to wipe a person’s criminal record immediately.
He said that the shoes have been recovered.
But the magistrate pointed out the colour of the shoes, saying, “Look at that. Once that is worn, it will be seen.”
Connell added that the shoes glow in the dark.
“You really can’t miss him with that one,” he said.
The magistrate also noted that the defendant had lied to the police.
Connell, however, said, “We are mere mortals…”
In her submission, the prosecution noted that James had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
She, however, noted that he had tried to deceive the police when he was first asked about the shoes.
“I understand that he is a footballer, yes. But should you just slap him
on the wrist and let him go?” she said, adding that James’ offence was
compounded when he lied about it.
The prosecutor said that James should be made to understand that what he did is wrong and it is not good to lie and make it worse.
Samuel, however, made no representation on sentencing, saying that the court should do as it sees fit.
But Connell, after consulting with his client, told the court that James said that he had lied to the police to save face with his friend.
Connell said that the offence was not a hanging offence, saying that while the court does not want to spank James on the hands, “the court cannot fix our problems now.
“We can’t depend on the pillar of sentencing when the pillars of society have also crumbled.”
The prosecutor said that the Crown was not looking for a custodial sentence.
And the senior magistrate said he would not invoke Section 37.
The chief magistrate decided to bond James for one year. If he breaks the bond, he must pay the court EC$1,000 forthwith or go to jail for three months.