Out of options, court jails ‘cocaine baby’

Now 21, defendant first appeared in Summary Court in 2009

Joshua Kayan Pars, now 21, was a cocaine baby whose case was difficult to deal with, Magistrate Valdis Foldats said on Monday, but there was nothing left for the court to do except send him to prison.

The magistrate imposed consecutive and concurrent sentences totalling two and a half years for 10 files of offences, including four residential burglaries that occurred between 2009 and 2013.

“The time has come to say we have to protect the public from behaviour like yours,” Magistrate Foldats told Pars. “The court’s message to you is that we can’t help you right now; what we can do is warehouse you for a while.”

He said Pars’s case was heart-breaking, more than anything else. “It’s almost as if the die was cast the day you were born. You were addicted to drugs when you were born because your mother was an addict. You were a cocaine baby.”

Pars was in foster care until he was 18, the magistrate continued, and there was no stability in his younger years.

He came to Summary Court in October 2009, when he was still 17, for a burglary that had taken place the previous month, and for consuming ganja.

The first reference to Pars’s “unfortunate background” came from defence attorney John Furniss, who commented, “He’d been thrown into the system, with the state looking after him.” After Pars pleaded guilty to that first burglary, the court did everything it could to try to assist him, Mr. Furniss acknowledged.

The magistrate agreed. “Every resource on the island was used to try to get you to do right,” he told Pars. Measures included counselling, informal supervision, psychiatry, probation, electronic monitoring and the Drug Rehabilitation Court.

The prison sentence would give Pars time to think about what he wanted to do with his life: “You can still turn yourself around,” the magistrate said, urging Pars to take advantage of any programmes offered in prison.

He thanked the defendant for his guilty pleas and for always being a polite gentleman in court. He said he had taken into account Pars’s age and background, plus victim impact statements. One of them came from a woman who said Pars needed treatment.

Crown counsel Laura Manson provided details of the offences in chronological order.

She said the 2009 burglary occurred in Prospect, while the resident was off island. A neighbour had reported suspicious activity and when police arrived, they found a rear window and a garage door open. The officers found fingerprints. Pars and another person were arrested. Pars first said he didn’t know anything about it, then admitted going in but not taking anything. The other person has already been sentenced, Ms Manson said. Missing items included licence plates, a bottle of vodka and tools. Nothing was recovered.

The next charge was taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent in May 2010. The owner reported it missing, then found it abandoned and damaged. Officers found fingerprints that matched Pars’s.

In June 2010, officers executed a search warrant where Pars was staying and found quantities of ganja.

In 2011, he was found guilty of damage to property and not guilty of assault. That same year, he pleaded guilty at first opportunity to charges of damage to property, common assault and using an ICT network to abuse, annoy or harass.

There were several traffic charges, including driving without being licensed and without insurance, plus theft of a motorcycle along with another person.

He was then charged along with that same person for a burglary that occurred on the afternoon of 22 October, 2012 in West Bay. The victim returned home and found the rear door open with a window in the door pushed in. A quantity of jewellery valued at more than $35,000 had been taken.

The next burglary was in the Prospect area, again during the day and again with a quantity of jewellery taken. By this time, Pars was wearing an electronic monitoring device and it placed him in the area of the burglary. He blamed the device, saying it wasn’t working properly.

The final burglary was in April, off West Bay Road. The home’s back door was broken. Cash totalling $375 was removed from a handbag and jewellery estimated at $30,000 in value was taken. When arrested, Pars said he didn’t know what police were talking about, but he could not account for his whereabouts at the time of the burglary.

He entered guilty pleas on 10 July.

Ms Manson said she did not have sufficient information to work out which stolen property had been recovered and what was not recovered. The magistrate said he thought ordering compensation was not realistic.