Magistrate Bertie Pompey, on Monday, expressed his disagreement with the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions to withdraw three traffic charges against a 16-year-old who allegedly rode an uninsured motorcycle.
“I don’t agree,” the magistrate told prosecutor Corporal Cornelius Tittle, immediately after dismissing the charge against the teen.
The teenager first appeared before Pompey on Aug. 8, at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court, charged that on July 30, at Chili Public Road, in Georgetown, he drove one black Falcon motor bike without there being in force a policy of insurance in respect of third party risk in respect of the said vehicle.
He was also charged for riding the said motorbike without being the holder of a driving permit, with driving one black Falcon motor bike and using the said vehicle without it being registered.
After the teen pleaded guilty to the three charges, the magistrate asked for the facts of the matter, but before the facts could be read, Crown Counsel Renee Simmons interjected.
She asked that the facts and sentencing be deferred.
“The DPP has taken a policy decision with regards to persons who are 18 and under when it comes to charging of criminal offences for certain matters. This is based on the fact that the Juvenile Justice Act has been passed and is just to be assented to,” the prosecutor said.
The Crown counsel said that the DPP’s office has sent out multiple directives to the Commissioner of Police and spoken to multiple stations and asked that before a person who is 16 or younger is charged, that it first be sanctioned by the DPP’s office.
“I have to bring this to the attention of the DPP before the matter can go any further,” Simmons told the court.
The matter was initially adjourned to Aug. 15 but was further adjourned to Aug. 29.
When the defendant appeared before the same court and magistrate on Monday Aug. 29, Tittle told the court that the DPP had decided to discontinue the matter, under section 68 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
“This doesn’t give you a permit to go back and ride uninsured and without a license,” the magistrate told the teen.
“You can end up with serious consequences. You can knock somebody down or injure them and there’s nothing to be had by them if they are injured. Money can’t really bring back life but it is the closest thing in the event the person has to seek medical attention.
“You reach the age you can be prosecuted but the DPP said you can’t be prosecuted criminally. Go and get your license, you hear me?” Pompey said and told the teen he could go.
After the defendant left, the magistrate told the prosecutor he did not agree with the charge being withdrawn.
He said that even if the teen were charged, it would not “be an hindrance to his life” as the outcome would not affect him.
The Child Justice Act, which was passed in 2019, sets the age of criminal responsibility at 12 years old, up from age 8.
The law says that a child aged 12 but under the age of 14 years shall be presumed not to have the capacity to appreciate the difference between right and wrong unless this is proved otherwise.
Prosecution of a child aged 12 but less than 14 years old must be on the basis of certification of the DPP.
The law presumes that no child under the age of 12 can be guilty of an offence.
It applied to persons under 18 years old who are alleged to have committed a crime and also to any person who turns 18 before the proceedings that had been instituted are concluded.
The law also applies to persons over 18 but under 21, on the direction of DPP in special circumstances.