No conviction ordered
in wheel clamp theft case

Defendant found guilty after trial

After trial in February, Magistrate Nova Hall found a man guilty of stealing two wheel clamps that had been attached to his motorcycle by an employee of Parking Management Services in August 2009.

The man had pleaded not guilty, maintaining that he had not parked his motorcycle in a “no parking” area in the lot outside Treasure Island Resort.

After delivering her verdict, the magistrate requested a social inquiry report and adjourned sentencing until 27 April.

On that date she explained she had ordered the report because she wanted to deal with the justice of the matter and deal also with the defendant’s concerns, which the officer writing the report had picked up on. She asked if the man had anything to say before she proceeded to sentence.

“I’ve gone all my life without a criminal record,” he responded. Now 41, he said he had worked hard to build his own business and raise his family as he had been raised. A conviction now would have serious consequences, he indicated.

The magistrate said she was taking into account all the circumstances of the case plus the report from the Department of Community Rehabilitation. Under a specific section of the Penal Code, she ordered that no conviction be recorded against him. However, she also ordered that he pay $200 in costs.

Crown Counsel Jenesha Simpson advised the court of an email she had received in which the value of the clamps was put at $300 each. The magistrate indicated that this figure was substantially higher than the figure she had been given during trial. She declined to make an order for payment.

During the trial, the defendant said he was having lunch at Treasure Island when someone he knew advised him that his bike was being clamped. He ran outside and encountered the Parking Management employee. He insisted he was parked to the left of the no parking area; at most, the bike’s kickstand could have been on the yellow line. Two witnesses to the clamping were unable to say what the exact position of the bike was at the time.

The employee left the scene without removing the clamps. The bike owner then borrowed a backhoe to transport the clamped bike across the road. There he used a saw to remove the clamps.

Police Inspector Pearson Best told the court of the report he received from the company about the missing wheel locks. He said he contacted the bike owner, who told him he had cut the clamps off and put them in the garbage. Mr. Best said he told the bike owner that payment had been requested and the reply was, “Let them take me to court.”

In her judgment, the magistrate pointed out that Mr. Best’s evidence was not challenged.

She said the clamps belonged to another and the defendant had no right to remove them from Treasure Island. By discarding them he had permanently deprived the owner of them. Removing the clamps did not give him the right to throw them away even though he had warned the company employee of his intention to do so.

If the clamps had been returned a case could not have been made out for theft, but it could have been for damage to property. As this case unfolded, he was guilty of theft, the magistrate found.

There have been at least two other court cases involving theft of or damage to wheel clamps.

In one instance, the Crown chose to not proceed after the case reached the Grand Court. In another, a jury found the defendant not guilty.