Addict ditched drug court

Patrick Noel Watler was sentenced on Monday to three years imprisonment this week for an assortment of offences that ranged from sneak theft to break-in burglaries.

The offences were prompted by Watler’s need to feed his cocaine addiction, Attorney John Furniss told Magistrate Grace Donalds.

Because the offences did not involve violence against a person, Watler was considered last year for the Drug Rehabilitation Court, Mr. Furniss explained. However, he was returned to a regular court because he did not comply with the requirements of the DRC programme.

Watler, 41, failed to attend counselling, did not meet with a probation officer as directed and neglected to participate in the various treatment sessions recommended for him.

His offences, like the sneak-theft of a clerk’s purse from a store, are systemic of a drug problem, Mr. Furniss told the court. Although generally regarded as nuisances, they are disturbing to the persons affected. They also waste police and court resources.

‘These are the people one wants to get off drugs so they don’t have to burden the system,’ the attorney said.

The offences before the court began in 2005.

In December that year, Watler went into an Eastern Avenue store and asked the clerk to check on an item supposedly ordered by a friend. When she turned her back, he reached over the counter and stole a metal cash pan.

The cash pan contained $2,468.53, which was documented by the owner.

Watler was later identified in a police line-up. He admitted the offence, but said he thought he had stolen $700. However, he admitted being under the influence of cocaine at the time.

In November 2006, he entered another George Town store and stole two sheet sets and a shower curtain. Their total value was $46.50.

The burglary occurred in June 2007, when he entered a business in Red Bay as a trespasser and stole a cash pan. There was damage to a back door and side glass. The charge did not specify any amount of money involved.

In November 2007, Watler entered a store in George Town and grabbed a clerk’s purse from a shelf behind the counter. The purse contained CI$250 and $3,650 in Philippine currency – about CI$73.72.

The same day he went to a nearby licensed premises and stole a waitress’ handbag, which she had placed behind the bar. The bag contained $12.

The magistrate imposed sentences of nine months for the theft of the cash pan, three months consecutive for the sheets and shower curtain, and two years for the burglary, also consecutive.

She imposed 15 months for each of the handbag thefts, running them concurrently with the other sentences. For four counts of failing to surrender, she also set concurrent terms.

The magistrate told Watler she did not know what facilities would be available at Northward Prison, but it seemed obvious he had a problem he should try to get help with.

Mr. Furniss advised that counsellors have recommenced visiting the prison.

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