Court can’t order treatment
After he was found to be ineligible
for the Drug Rehabilitation Court, Joel Jason Smith was returned to the regular
Summary Court where last week he received prison sentences totalling three
Smith, who turned 45 the next day,
had pleaded guilty to two commercial burglaries and one charge of handling a
Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale
noted that Smith had asked to be admitted to the drug court but was refused because
he had previous convictions for
offences involving violence.
“Sometimes, because of cooperation
between the prison and counselling services, an inmate can go from prison to
Caribbean Haven before release,” she said, referring to the residential
“It’s nothing the court can direct.
But in certain cases, through the Probation and Aftercare Team, it can happen,”
she told Smith. It was not that there was no possibility of treatment, but it
would have to be under different provisions.
A prison officer present confirmed
that there is a direct provision for transition to Caribbean Haven.
Smith had been before the courts
for some time and had a history of drug abuse for 20 years. But, the chief
magistrate commented, “There was a time 2003 – 2008 when we did not see you.”
Defence Attorney John Furniss said
Smith’s drug problem had been behind the bulk of his offences. The years he had
not been in trouble were years he had the support of a female friend who since
Smith’s case of drug abuse was not
a simple one, Mr. Furniss continued. “He may have been able to control it to
the extent of working during the week and using on weekends. But then the whole
world falls apart. He is trying to get treatment.”
Crown Counsel Marilyn Brandt
provided details of the offences.
Police were summoned to the scene
of the first burglary, Dell’s Shoes and Accessories in George Town, on 13 April,
2009. They found that a rear door had been forced open with a crowbar. Stolen
goods included clothing, shoes, watches and $47 cash.
Officers also found a shirt on the
floor. It had been worn and they retrieved it for testing. DNA was obtained
from the shirt and found to match the DNA of Smith.
The second burglary was reported on
4 May, 2009. The owner of La Sherie in George
Town had locked and secured the premises. When she returned
she discovered clothing on the floor and jewellery missing. Police attended and
found that a steel grill on a window had been cut off. The glass was smashed
and an office ransacked.
Ms Brandt said police received
information that led them to a female. Their inquiries then led to Smith.
Value of the stolen items was
$55,346, with only $2,500 worth recovered.
The incident involving the bicycle occurred in
late April 2009 when the owner put the bike on her porch at night but did not
secure it. The next morning it was gone.
In May, she was at Kirk Supermarket
when she was informed that her bike was outside. She went and saw Smith with the
bike and confronted him. He said he had borrowed it from a relative, but the
relative denied any knowledge. Smith subsequently pleaded guilty to handling.
The magistrate asked how Smith
could have stolen $55,000 worth of goods from La Sherie – had he backed up a
truck to the premises?
Mr. Furniss said three people were
charged with that burglary. “Bags of stuff went out the window” to a man
outside, he explained. He said that man had pleaded not guilty to burglary and
was awaiting trial; the female co-accused had a different profile and was in a
It was not known whether the shop
owner was insured.
In passing sentence, the magistrate
took into account that the burglaries occurred at night when no one was present
and therefore not in physical danger. A first offence of commercial burglary
would attract nine to 15 months, she indicated.
But the aggravating features included
the value of the goods, the small amount recovered and the damage done. In
addition, Smith had previous convictions
“I’m giving a longer sentence and
hope he will be able to access treatment at the end,” she said.