Man took conch because he was hungry

Magistrate suggests asking for food stamps

In Summary Court last week, Magistrate Valdis Foldats had a suggestion for a defendant who said he committed marine offences because he was hungry.

Ian Wayne Byrd pleaded guilty to taking 37 conch from a marine park and during closed season. He told the court he was unemployed, hungry, didn’t have any money and didn’t want to steal.

“You are stealing,” the magistrate replied. “You’re stealing from your own people.” He said Byrd could go to Probation or Social Services and ask for food stamps or vouchers.

Crown Counsel Laura Manson said the offences occurred on 16 October 2012. Customs officers attached to the Marine Unit received information that there were two men taking marine life in South Sound. They attended and used binoculars to observe two people in the water; one was pounding conch shells with a hammer while the other was swimming up and down.

When they came to shore, the officers intercepted them. A backpack the swimmers were carrying had 37 conch in it. Ten is the maximum of conch one can remove from an unrestricted area when the season is open.

Ms Manson said the other man involved was being dealt with separately because he had further charges.

The magistrate fined Byrd $100 for taking more than the daily limit, $150 for taking conch out of season and $200 for taking them from a replenishment zone. He allowed two months for payment of the total $450.

He noted that Byrd had no previous marine offences and gave a warning. “For a second similar offence, we start looking at jail,” he said.


  1. Poor man was simply hungry. That is one powerful appetite though to want to eat 37 conchs. Sounds to me like the man needs to seek medical attention and be checked for a tape worm before seeing social services. I wonder if there is a fine for insulting the intelligence of the Court?