Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett says that some sections of the Vincentian society are excusing acts of theft, focusing on the value of the item stolen rather than the crime itself.
He made the point while sentencing at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court last week, Shettima Crosby, a man who has a long conviction record for theft, mainly of hard liquor.
Crosby, 40, of Redemption Sharpes, appeared in court on a charge that, on Nov. 23, 2018, he stole from Massy supermarket, one bottle of Sunset Strong Rum, valued at EC$38.87, and one Crest cheese, valued at EC$7.74.
The man faced a maximum penalty of two years in prison.
The sentencing came even as Crosby is serving a prison sentence for stealing a bottle of rum, a crime he committed after the 2018 offence.
“People are making a case for thieves. That appears not to be wrong anymore,” Burnett, said, referring to the public response when the court sentences persons for theft.
“What does the court do with a man with a mind like that? Because it is a mind thing,” he said, after reading Crosby’s long conviction record, dating back over 15 years.
“I have to show some respect, but based on the guidelines, he is to get a discount,” he said, referring to the discount of up to one-third of a sentence that the court considers for defendants who plead guilty at the first opportunity.
The prosecutor, Police Sergeant Renwick Cato, told the court that Crosby was serving a sentence for stealing a bottle of rum.
Crosby said that he was serving a six-month jail term handed down at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court but that he could not remember which magistrate had imposed the sentence.
“Well, is this same magistrate here,” Burnett said.
He noted that the offence for which Crosby was being sentenced last week was committed in 2018, but added, “But you have not changed much”.
“I have to bear in mind the date of the offence and the fact that you got a conviction after,” he said.
Burnett sentenced Crosby to three months in prison, to run consecutive to his current prison term.