Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale rejected a request last week to not record a conviction against a man who admitted resisting arrest.
‘The courts must protect the police acting in the lawful execution of their duty,’ she said. ‘The courts must ensure that police can do their duty without fear of harm.’
Defence Attorney Edward Renvoize had asked that Gilmar Adulio Guerra be discharged because a conviction could affect his work permit. ‘He wants to stay here to continue assisting the economic growth of this country,’ Mr. Renvoize told the court. He said his client apologised for his stupid behaviour.
Guerra, who is from Belize, pleaded guilty to two charges of disorderly conduct and one of resisting arrest in the early hours of 26 May 2007. A taxi driver had called police after Guerra refused to pay his fare.
He pleaded not guilty to five other charges and these were left on file. They included making off – that is, leaving even though he knew payment of $15 was required; insulting the modesty of a woman by using certain language to the taxi driver; and assault causing actual bodily harm to the officer.
Crown Counsel Elisabeth Lees referred to the summary of facts and noted that the taxi driver had picked up Guerra at the Mango Tree Restaurant near the airport. She took him to an ATM at a downtown bank, where Guerra was unsuccessful in withdrawing money. She then took him to another ATM on Airport Road, where he did withdraw funds.
Ms Lees said the fare was not unreasonable, given the time of night. The taxi driver had said she would have dropped Guerra at his home for no extra payment.
The police officer observed that Guerra was unsteady and smelled of alcohol. He spoke to Guerra and encouraged him to pay for the service rendered. Guerra refused and used insulting and offensive language, including the f word.
After several efforts to reason with him, the officer arrested him. Guerra kicked the officer and was restrained. Placed in the back of the police vehicle, he suddenly lay back on the seat and kicked again at the officer’s neck and face.
He was restrained again and taken to the police station, where he continued to behave in a disorderly manner. He was placed in a cell to sleep off the effects of the alcohol.
Mr. Renvoize pointed out that Guerra had been shackled at the station, which had been a punishment for him. Ms Lees replied that he had been shackled out of concern for his safety, given the way he was behaving.
The magistrate said she had imposed a sentence of nine months on a man who hit an officer while drunk and that sentence had been upheld by the Court of Appeal. The Police Law provides for a sentence of up to two years and a fine up to $1,000.
In this case, the officer had managed to avoid being kicked in the face and neck. Guerra, 31, was of previous good character and his employer had spoken highly of him.
Saying a stiff fine would meet the circumstances of the case, she ordered Guerra to pay $750 for resisting arrest and $100 for each incident of disorderly conduct, a total of $950.
The magistrate added that she would not impose a suspended sentence because either Guerra had learned his lesson or it might be that he would not be here.