Teens’ charge reduced from robbery
Four teenagers have been dealt with in Grand Court for the theft of pizzas and soft drinks after the charge against them was reduced from robbery.
Justice Marva McDonald-Bishop imposed individualised non-custodial sentences for the two boys and two girls after they pleaded guilty and she heard reports from probation officers.
Robbery is a theft from a person by means of force or fear of force. It can be dealt with only in Grand Court, so that is where the teens were sent to stand trial.
The original charge was laid on the basis that one of them had a knife when the pizzas and drinks were taken from the delivery man on 28 July, 2010, in West Bay.
On 11 March, Crown Counsel Candia James told the court that a knife or screwdriver was apparently seen by the deliveryman after he had already handed over the pizzas. One of the girls told him someone was bringing the money; the offence amounted to receiving the pizza and running off. “There was no threat of force at the time of the offence,” Ms James said.
Defence Attorney Lucy Organ noted that the probation officer for one of the teens had referred to the incident as a childish prank.
The teens themselves gave varying accounts of the incident. Basically, it amounted to calling Gino’s Pizzeria and ordering the food and drink to be delivered to a particular address. When the deliveryman arrived, one of the girls met him outside to claim the order. She told him the money was coming, but then everyone ran from the scene.
Investigations later indicated that nobody at the given address had placed any order.
At the sentencing hearing, Ms Organ pointed out that the older boy had never been in trouble before. According to the social inquiry report, the offence was blamed on some bad company. He was placed on probation for one year and ordered to follow his social worker’s instructions.
The younger boy was on a supervision order from Youth Court at the time of the theft and had another matter pending, Attorney John Furniss acknowledged. He said there had been behaviour problems that led to difficulties at school, but the boy was now following a programme that was having positive effects.
This boy was placed on a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for one year; any breach would result in incarceration for at least 30 days, the judge warned.
The younger girl had been in Juvenile Court because of her need for care and protection. She did not have a history of problems with the court until this incident, Mr. Furniss reported. “Part of the problem is the choices she makes as to the company she keeps,” he said. Noting that girl was already in a programme, the judge admonished and discharged her.
The older girl, who was described as a product of a dysfunctional family, had other charges in another court, Ms James said. There was a high risk of the girl re-offending, so a sentence that would serve as a deterrent was suggested. This girl, although the oldest of the four, had denied being the organiser.
The judge expressed concern, saying the girl was a challenge. “There must be some deep-rooted reason for her behaviour that we might miss… Something seems wrong somewhere.” She said medical expertise could assist the court and she asked if a psychiatric report could be done on short notice. She said the court’s main aim at this time should be rehabilitation and then deterrence from re-offending.
Sentencing was adjourned until just before the visiting judge’s departure so that further information could be obtained.
Last week, the judge said she had been advised that the doctor would not be available to make a report in time.
“So I will just have to make do with what I have, bearing in mind that I suspect there will be issues that will be left unresolved without that assistance,” she said.
In passing sentence, Justice McDonald-Bishop noted that the girl had not been the beneficiary of a stable family life. She said the girl was gullible and had to find a way to strengthen herself.
The judge revealed she had been thinking about a suspended sentence, but the offence itself did not warrant prison. The good thing about a probation order was that, if the girl failed to carry out the conditions of the order, she could be brought back to court and sent to prison then. Her probation officer thought she could benefit from supervision.
The judge agreed, but made one of the conditions of probation that the girl keep her appointment with a psychiatrist. The appointment had been made so that the court and the girl herself could gain some insight into why she acted as she did.
This defendant must also enrol in a skills-training or educational programme and keep a curfew for the first six months of the probation period.
All four teens were ordered to write a letter of apology to the owners of Gino’s Pizzeria.