Todd Omar Bowen was given a suspended sentence and placed on probation after he pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods – 40 phone cards taken during a robbery at the Savannah Texaco gas station in May 2005.
Bowen, 21, had been in custody since shortly after the incident. He was initially charged with robbery, possession of an imitation firearm and handling. After he pleaded guilty to handling, the Crown offered no evidence on the other charges.
The defendant remained in custody until 8 September, when he was sentenced by Mrs. Justice Zaila McCalla to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, and supervision by a probation officer for two years.
Defence Attorney Clyde Allen told the court that 183 phone cards had been stolen, with a value of $2,310. Cash totalling $965.53 was also stolen. The 40 cards recovered from Bowen were worth $365, or about 11 per cent of the total.
Mr. Allen said that the day after the robbery, Bowen gave police a full statement of what he believed had happened. He denied knowledge of any firearm and was not involved in any robbery.
Crown Counsel Kirsti-Ann Gunn said the phone cards were among items taken by two masked men during the night time robbery.
A vehicle was spotted that was believed to be involved in the robbery. Within half an hour, police located the vehicle in an area of Prospect. Nearby they recovered items of clothing, a cell phone and 44 phone cards, later identified as those taken in the robbery.
Inquiries in the neighbourhood revealed that the vehicle was used by Bowen from time to time. Officers received a contact number for him and when they dialled that number, the recovered cell phone rang. On that basis, Bowen became a suspect.
His statement to police the next day and Mr. Allen’s mitigation combined to give the defendant’s account.
Bowen was driving to his family home to feed his dogs. He saw a friend and gave him a lift. He went in to feed the dogs and when he came out again the car was gone.
He and others went to search for the car. He felt he knew who had it and it would be returned. When he got back to his family home, he saw the car.
He was then summoned by someone in the bushes. It was the person he had given the lift to. That person gave him the phone cards and said to hold on to them. Bowen accepted.
Mr. Allen said police arrived minutes after Bowen accepted the cards. The defendant gave police a full statement and helped them recover other items, he added.
Mrs. Justice McCalla said Bowen ought to have been put on notice when he was given 40 phone cards. That quantity was not usual for one person to have.
In passing sentence, she said she took into account the fact that Bowen had been in custody for over a year, separated from his family and not able to go about his business.
She made it clear she was not sentencing him on the basis that the gas station was robbed that night by persons with a firearm or imitation. There was no evidence Bowen was involved.
But, she warned, if he had friends who were likely to be involved in that type of behaviour, he would have to be very careful. The judge said Bowen had two previous convictions, so she was giving him a last chance to decide the type of life he wanted to live.