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The defendant, Devorn Baptiste, in police custody on Friday, June 3, 2022.
The defendant, Devorn Baptiste, in police custody on Friday, June 3, 2022.

A man who said the High Court recently released him from prison on bail returns to prison to serve a four-year sentence for burglary.

Magistrate Bertie Pompey handed down the four-year prison sentence on Devorn Baptiste, of Arnos Vale, at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court in a matter that included five lawyers at different stages in the proceeding and 27 adjournments.

The sentence came less than a month after Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne, sitting at the Serious Offences Court, in Kingstown, jailed Baptiste for eight months in connection with a March 24, 2023 charge of trespassing, at night, onto a property where a woman lived alone.

Pompey found Baptiste guilty of a charge that on May 28, 2022, at Grand Sable, Georgetown, he entered the dwelling house of Othneil Child, also of Grand Sable, as a trespasser and stole one black 32” Mastertech flat screen television and a remote, valued at EC$1,800; one black Samsung Galaxy A10 cellular phone, valued at EC$800, and EC$650 in cash, total value EC$3,250, the property of Keyra Joslyn-Child of the same address, and one black 10” Samsung tablet, valued at EC$700, the property of the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Baptiste informed the court that his lawyer, Michael Wyllie, was at the High Court. However, there was no communique from the lawyer to the magistrate with regards to his absence.

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On the last court appearance on March 24, Pompey granted the lawyer’s request for an adjournment but told Baptiste that on the next occasion, he would hear the matter with or without his lawyer present.

Baptiste was unrepresented on Monday and Pompey proceeded with the matter.

According to the virtual complainant, Othneil Child, on May 28, 2022, about 8:20 p.m., he secured his home by locking all doors and windows with the exception of a kitchen window that was higher than the others. 

He then left the house with his family to attend a function, leaving his sister-in-law in the house.

The family returned home about an hour later and the wife and children exited the vehicle and went to the house and Child took his sister-in-law to her home.

About 10 minutes later, Child returned home and found his family at the neighbour’s, “distraught and crying”.

After a conversation with the wife, Child went inside the house before returning to the neighbour’s and taking his family home.

CCTV footage, which was shown in the courtroom, showed Baptiste entering the house and removing the items.

Child’s wife, Keyra Johnson-Child, said that she was the one to observe that the items were missing.

She said that after her husband went to take her sister home, she was at the kitchen’s sink when she realised she was seeing clearly through the window.  As a result, she pushed her hand through the window and realised that the mesh was missing.

She said items from a bag that she took to town had been emptied onto the bed in her bedroom and that was when she realised the phone, tablet and money were missing. 

Johnson-Child said when she checked in her daughter’s room she realised that the TV and remote were missing.

She said she gathered her children, locked the front door of the house and went by the neighbour to wait for her husband.

When the husband returned and took the family home, Johnson-Child said they reviewed the CCTV footage and she was able to identify “Bar Toe” —  the defendant, as they grew up together.

Meanwhile, in mitigation, Baptiste told the court that he was “innocent” of the charge.

“I don’t know nothing. I don’t come up here (Georgetown). Town I live. Three years now I move out from up here.”

He said, “Police never meet nothing in my possession — nothing concerning this thing. I innocent of this. I ain’t know anything about that.”

Baptiste argued that the video footage was “black and white” and “that could be anybody there”. 

He told the court, that person in the footage “is not me”.

Asked by the magistrate if he had any witnesses, Baptiste said, “I have my girlfriend fuh say I was home sleeping.”

“You’re found guilty as charged,” the magistrate told Baptiste.

Pompey started with a four year sentence and found no mitigating features of the offence.

Aggravating is that the items were not recovered and the defendant showed no remorse.

Pompey sentenced Baptiste to four years imprisonment and told him he has the right to appeal.

Baptiste, whose criminal convictions also include theft, assault, wounding and damage to property, will next appear before the magistrate on June 5 in connection with an unrelated matter.