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UNEMPLOYED GIVEN CHANCE TO PAYBACK

A 23-year-old unemployed man of Edinboro has been given one year to compensate a woman whose home he recently burglarized, stealing a variety of items which altogether valued EC$2,096.

Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett, sitting at the Kingstown Magistrate’s court on Tuesday, ordered that Michael Simmonds compensate Edinboro resident La-Fern Lewis in the sum $2,000.

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Simmonds is to make the payment by November 16, 2022. In default he will go to prison for nine months.

“You have to find a job, you have to find work to do. You have a whole year to pay her (Lewis). Go by BRAGSA and tell them you want a job,” Burnett told Simmonds, in handing down the penalty.

Simmonds was also sentenced to 18 months, but that sentence was suspended for one year.

The defendant had pleaded guilty to entering Lewis’ two-storey dwelling house as a trespasser, between October 14 and 25, 2021, and stealing a quantity of groceries valued $C606, toiletries valued EC$250, clothing valued EC$920, a pair of burgundy Puma shoes valued EC$120, and a pair of Air Nike shoes valued EC$200, amounting to a total value of EC$2,096. All the items are said to be Lewis’ property, and some of them were recovered, following a report to the boy’s parents.  The clothing was seen hanging from a line at the defendant’s home.

Before Burnett arrived at his decision, Lewis, who was called to the stand, agreed that Simmonds was in no position to pay compensation, as he was unemployed, and his only source of income was pittances he got from running errands for people. 

Lewis was of the view that if Simmonds was sent to prison, it would teach him a lesson.

Lewis said she knew the defendant well, and used to give him his three meals daily. She said she gave him a job to carry some concrete blocks to her home, but he betrayed her trust. She said Simmonds likes cleanliness, and had a love for soap and toiletries.

But the Magistrate contended that prison may not be the best place for Simmonds, who had told the Court that he was taking treatment for a serious ailment.

Simmonds had earlier given the Court the name of that disease.

Burnett was also convinced that Simmonds, based on his economic situation currently, he would not be able to pay compensation.

“Just gey me some time, I will work and pay back the money. I done mek up me mind not to do it again,”  Simmonds, who was unrepresented, pleaded.

Burnett noted that based on his record, Simmonds had several convictions of a similar nature, including burglaries at the Thompson’s Home, the St. Mary’s Catholic School, and the Convent of the Roman Catholic Church. 

When the Magistrate inquired of Simmonds if he was ever a patient at the Mental Health Centre, he said, “No.” 

Burnett said he found Simmonds hanging the stolen clothes hanging a bit unusual for someone of sound mind.

Prosecutor Shamrack Pierre said that as far as he was aware, Simmonds was of sound mind.

 “If I am going to order compensation, it’s going to be about $2,000, and if I am going to do that, I have to give him about a year to pay,” the Magistrate said.

Attorney Grant Connell who was at the Bar Table, in connection with another matter, made his input as a friend of the Court. He recommended compensation, in addition to the suspended sentence, and noted that there were instances before in which the Court had allowed persons up to a year or more to pay compensation, in cases of a similar nature.

“Write down his name for the ‘road gang’,” Connell suggested, referring to the Christmas road cleaning programme, expected to begin soon.

Burnett did not say whether he would go as far as writing down Simmonds’ name for the road cleaning programme, but he ordered compensation.

The facts in the case had revealed that Simmonds had seized the opportunity to burglarize Lewis’ home, during the time the complainant was staying at a shelter, due to damage to her home caused by the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano.

On her return home on October 6, she discovered that her home was burgarlized, and the items in question missing.

Simmonds’ slippers were found in the house.

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