The man accused of trespassing onto the premises of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic School, which his daughter attends, and threatening a child therein has been found guilty of both charges.
Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett handed down his verdict at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday and bonded the defendant, Bertille Maloney, 41, for one year.
If Maloney, a businessman, of Fountain, breaches the bond, he must pay the sum of EC$1,500 forthwith or spend three months in prison.
Maloney, who was represented by counsel Jomo Thomas, was found guilty of charges that on May 25, 2022, at North River Road, in Kingstown, in circumstances likely to cause a breach of the peace, he made use of threatening language to an 11-year-old pupil of Arnos Vale, to wit “I will f*** she up. Wait you go see” and that he entered upon the property of the St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School as a trespasser and insulting the student.
In summarising the case before handing down his verdict on Wednesday, Burnett said that on the day in question, there was an incident at the school between the child and one of the defendant’s children.
The child testified that she was going downstair to wash her hands and her shoe lace was untied and she stepped on it and tripped.
Maloney’s daughter was in front of her and she held on to the Maloney’s child and scraped her as she fell.
This started a chain of events resulting in criminal charges being brought against Maloney, Burnett said, adding that the incident at the school came to Maloney’s attention and he went to the school “in an attempt, maybe, to handle the matter himself”.
Burnett said that from all of the witnesses, it was clear to the court that Maloney was very upset based on the information he received and because of that “he lost control of the situation”.
In mitigation, Thomas told the court that he wanted to make one correction to the record.
The lawyer said that his client went to the school to take lunch to his daughter, as he always did. The court agreed that this was in fact that case.
The lawyer said that his client has no previous conviction, is a married man and father of two children, who expressed in his statement that he was concerned about his children.
“He allowed himself to the carried away and acted in a way that the court finds to be against the law,” Thomas said.
“My own view is that having been found guilty, he should not be punished unduly. I think Mr. Maloney is a father and someone — it is said when anger takes hold reason takes flight.
“And I do believe that the charges are not of the kind which should dictate any–” the lawyer was saying, when the magistrate indicated that he did not intend to send Maloney to prison.
Thomas told the court that he thinks that Maloney should be reprimanded and discharged, but the senior magistrate disagreed.
The lawyer then suggested a bond and a reprimand.
“I was young once and I wonder if this could have happened in my time. Things that could have happened in my day, not any more. We have come a long way.”
The magistrate said that from the evidence it is clear that Maloney loves his children, something that he also told the school principal.
“That is good but even while doing that, he has to recognise that things will happen in life and it is how you respond to them is important,” Burnett said.
“In my view, Mr. Maloney was carried away by his love for his children and his desire to protect them. As he said, he does not want to see them cry. In my view, crying is normal, but that is his view.”
Meanwhile, the mother of the child who Maloney assaulted told the court that her daughter is traumatised and she and the child’s father had to take her to counselling, which they had suspended but have to resume.
The magistrate told the mother:
“Something came out in the evidence. Although your daughter recognised that she scraped the child, not even ‘sorry’ was said or anything like that.”
The mother told the court that after the incident her child was at home for two weeks and did not want to go to school.
The senior magistrate said he wanted the parents to allow the children to be children and not impose themselves on the decisions of the children.
“Allow them to play, socialised as children. I was not happy when that came out in the evidence,” he said of the fact that the virtual complainant never apologised for scraping the other child.
“In my view, I understand the dynamics of these things in life. The most appropriate sentence is to place him on a bond. That is going to be my sentence in the matter.”
Burnett noted that he did not engage the prosecutor, acting Corporal of Police Corlene Samuel on the matter of sentencing, adding that he was going to impose a bond regardless of her submission.