A man who breached a court order that he observe an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew was spared immediate jail time because a magistrate was unsure as to where he was supposed to be during the curfew.
On Nov. 13, Ronald “John Small” Isaacs appeared before the Serious Offences Court and pleaded guilty to a charge that on Nov. 9, at Kingstown, he wilfully disobeyed court order 428/23 that was duly made by magistrate John Ballah on Nov. 6 at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court.
The facts of the case are that on Nov. 6, Ballah granted Isaacs bail on theft and burglary charges.
The bail conditions included that he observes an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.
However, on Nov. 9, about 11:30 p.m., PC 979 Jack and a party of police officers were on patrol duties at Little Tokyo, Kingstown.
Upon entering Little Tokyo, Jack saw Isaacs standing in the area of the number 10 shop.
Jack knew that the court had imposed a curfew on Issacs. He pointed out to Issacs the offence of breach of court order.
Issacs responded, “Officer is my phone I looking for.”
He later said that he lives at Lyttle Tokyo.
In his submission on sentencing, prosecutor Inspector of Police Renrick Cato told the court that he believes that the maximum penalty for breach of a court order should be reviewed.
“Two years [in prison] is not enough,” Cato said.
He said there must have been a reason why the magistrate included a curfew as part of Isaacs’ bail conditions.
The prosecutor said breaching the bail condition is to say to the magistrate, “I don’t care what you say or do.”
“That is the height of disrespect,” the prosecutor said.
“I always see a breach of court order as a serious offence and I am always of the opinion that it should have one penalty, which must be custodial.
“Because the court must send a strong message to other persons who believe the court order is a joke. It is a very serious offence and it ends when the case is finished. You ought to obey the order until the case is finished.”
He said that based on the seriousness of the offence and the Isaacs’ level of disrespect, he should be sent to prison.
In handing down her sentence, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne said that the court could not overstate the seriousness of the offence.
She established a starting senesce of four months in prison.
She identified the mitigating feature of the offence as Isaacs’ lack of aggression and that he did not run, adding that this was surprising.
She commented that when there was a court order against Isaacs he had run but did not do so when an order was in place.
The court further noted that he had eight previous convictions, the most recent of which was in 2022.
The court took off one month in prison for the mitigating features.
The chief magistrate asked if any particulars had been taken as to where Isaacs would be during the curfew.
Cato said that because of a previous case, the position the court has been taking was to ensure that the particular of where a person would be during their curfew should be given to the court.
The prosecutor, however, said he could not say whether this was done in Isaacs’ case.
The court, therefore, sentenced Isaacs to three months imprisonment.
However, the chief magistrate said because it was not clear where Isaacs should have observed the curfew, she would suspend the sentence for three months.
Isaacs then told the court that he would be at his mother’s home in Old Montrose during the curfew.
“I am noting this. That is the location you are expected to be at 8 p.m.,” the chief magistrate told Isaacs.
“If they catch you from there, you already have a suspended sentence. So, you will also have another and whatever other charge upon that. So, you be guided accordingly,” she said.