The maximum sentence for aggravated burglary is life imprisonment, but Andy James Myles received a sentence of five years because he was only 19.
Mrs. Justice Zaila McCalla sentenced Myles last Thursday, a day after a jury found him guilty of two charges on a 5-2 vote.
Myles was accused of burglary and using a weapon on 9 December 2005 and 23 January 2006 in George Town.
The judge said she could not understand how Myles could have invaded the dwelling houses of his victims in broad daylight and in such a brazen manner.
In the first case, he tricked a woman into opening her door at 6.30am by telling her a water pipe was leaking outside.
He then pushed his way in and asked where the money was. She told him and he picked it up, then pushed her onto a sofa and held a knife to her, cutting her face. A struggle ensued and she bit him on the left hand. He left on a bicycle.
The victim knew Myles’ mother, aunt and grandmother. The money stolen was CI$1,400 and US$2,000, which she had mainly collected in rent.
In the second case, at around 10am the intruder chopped off a lock on a metal door to gain access to a wooden door, through which he entered the apartment.
Myles held a machete to the man and said, ‘Give me the money.’ The man said he didn’t have any. Myles used the machete to force a bathroom door. A woman in the room said they did not have any money, but he found her cream-coloured handbag.
It contained $11,000, of which $1,000 was her wages for two weeks; the rest her employer had left with her from his business.
When the burglar left on a bicycle, the woman ran after him. A neighbour saw the incident and recognised Myles.
Later, another area resident saw Myles, spoke to him and a struggle ensued. Myles was found to be carrying a garbage bag containing a cream-coloured handbag. It was returned to its owner, but the money was missing.
Myles was arrested 10 days after the December incident. The complainant picked him out of an identification parade the next day.
Myles told officers he knew nothing about the burglary. He said he had been asleep until 8am or 9am and his mother was there when he got up. He had a bite mark on his left hand but said he got it in a fight with his girlfriend. He was given bail.
His mother testified she recalled the morning of 9 December because it was Andy’s birthday. He was sleeping on the couch and she shook him and wished him happy birthday before she left the house.
The jury was told that Myles had convictions for possession and consumption of ganja, but no matters involving dishonesty or violence.
Defence Attorney John Furniss said that any lengthy sentence would mean Myles’ transfer at 21 from Eagle House to Northward Prison.
Compensation to the victims was discussed, but Mr. Furniss said Myles had means to pay. His mother had been so short of cash that she was unable to get him a birthday cake, so it was unlikely the family could help.
An order to pay compensation would include additional prison time if payment was not made. Where there are no means to pay, such an order just adds to the sentence, Mr. Furniss said. Appeal courts have indicated this is not proper practice.
No compensation order was made.