Defendant told to break cycle
Marty Dean Whittaker, a former client of the Drug Rehabilitation Court was sentenced on 21 May to six years imprisonment for three burglaries, with other sentences running concurrently.
Whittaker, now 35, was accepted into the DRC in November 2007 after admitting offences of theft and burglary along with his addiction to cocaine. For several months before that, Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale had him reporting regularly to her virtual drug court – sessions she held before the DRC officially began.
But on 18 March this year, he burgled a residence at night while the householders were present. There was a struggle and a demand for money.
As a result of this latest offence, Whittaker was expelled from the DRC and returned to regular court for sentencing. The 11 charges against him dated from November 2005.
During the 21 May hearing, the magistrate said Whittaker had done exceptionally well in the drug court programme until his last transgression. He reported he had reached step nine of the 12-Step Programme, at which a person begins making amends.
Together they reviewed his record, which started with theft and burglary in 1991 when he was 19.
‘At that time I was smoking ganja and drinking alcohol,’ Whittaker said. He experienced a rush from stealing and became addicted to that rush. Cocaine was not a problem for him until around 1999, he indicated. He had been in prison several times.
The magistrate summarised his history. ‘In adolescence there was a rush from doing anti-social things. You wouldn’t stop until you got addicted to cocaine. That has been your development. Where do we go from here?’
Whittaker agreed he had been given several excellent opportunities. He cried when he spoke of the hurt he had caused his mother. ‘I hate my addiction so much that if I could concentrate it in a finger I would cut it off,’ he said.
The magistrate said he had been given bail several times to see if he could follow the programme of regular reporting, urine tests, counselling and group meetings. His last relapse had hurt other people – not physically, but in the sense of violating their sense of safety in their own home.
‘You can relapse without stealing, but this was a relapse that put people in the community at risk. There is nothing more we can do…. At some point I have to stop giving you credit for being open and make you suffer the necessary consequences,’ the magistrate told him.
Attorney John Furniss, who serves as defence counsel in the DRC, said Whittaker deserved credit for his guilty pleas and cooperation with police investigating the offences, except for one. He detailed the family situation and the problems Whittaker had to face in that respect.
Crown Counsel Tanya Lobban outlined his offences in chronological order.
In November 2005 there was an incident involving dangerous driving and accessory after the fact of theft. Knowing a handbag had been stolen, he assisted the thief by throwing it out of the car window while being chased by police. Police arrested and bailed him.
Later that month, he committed a residential burglary during the day when no one was home. The occupants returned to find their premises ransacked after a screen door had been removed. Jewellery valued at $11,000 and $50 cash were stolen. Whittaker was found and bailed again.
The next day police received a report of a man at an apartment complex. Officers attended and asked him what he was doing. Whittaker replied he was looking for money to pay bills. Whittaker was taken to court, where bail was refused.
In December 2005 Whittaker was granted bail with his mother standing as surety. In January, he went to a relative and asked for money. The woman was getting her child ready for school. When she went to get $10 from her wallet for Whittaker, she discovered $200 was missing from a drawer.
Whittaker’s mother withdrew as surety the next day. When arrested, he refused to provide a urine sample for testing.
He was remanded until June, when he pleaded guilty and was sent to the counselling centre. In July he was remanded to Caribbean Haven residential treatment centre.
In October 2006, he breached bail conditions and was remanded until late November, when he received conditional bail.
His next offence was a daylight residential burglary in North Side on 18 April 2007. A caretaker walked in and confronted him and Whittaker asked for $5 for oil for his car. That was 18 April, 2007.
The next night he burgled the Monetary Authority, where he took $2 in coins and a bottle of cologne.
The magistrate interrupted Ms Lobban to ask why police bailed Whittaker after the North Side incident. They had interviewed him on 21 April and he admitted having a razor blade to cut up cocaine. An addict accused of burglary should be brought before a magistrate, she said. It is preferable that a judge use discretion rather than police using theirs in such cases.
On 28 April, 2007, he entered a Bodden Town beauty salon as a trespasser. When a man tried to get the money back, Whittaker threatened him while holding a box cutter.
After an identification parade, Whittaker was remanded from May until July, when he was put in the virtual drug court programme. There were no further offences until March 2008.
The magistrate said there was no doubt his behaviour sprang from drug addiction. She imposed a term of 18 months for the first residential burglary and a further 18 months for the shop burglary with nine months concurrent for threatening violence. She said threatening violence was new for Whittaker and showed how extreme his addiction had become.
A three-year term was added for the March ’08 residential burglary – for a total of six years.
Looking at the totality of sentences, she made others run concurrently. The magistrate urged Whittaker to use his time to break the cycle of offending. There are now two forensic psychologists and a counsellor working at the prison, she noted.