Courts will protect small businesses, judge says
For taking part in the robbery of Caribbean Bakery in West Bay on Sept. 29, 2010, Derrick Lloyd Simpson Jr. was sentenced on Tuesday to three years imprisonment.
Justice Alastair Malcolm said he was taking into account the fact that the offense occurred 11 days before Simpson’s 18th birthday, his state of maturity at the time, and the role he played in the two-man crime.
He indicated that the sentence also reflected a 10 percent discount for Simpson’s guilty plea because it was entered almost three years after the crime.
Simpson was charged with Dan Davar Kelly, who reportedly has absconded to the U.K. Earlier this year, crown prosecutor Candia James said she had intended to apply to have the trial proceed in Kelly’s absence because “I didn’t want there to be any undue prejudice to [Simpson] having waited so long for trial.”
However, Simpson changed his not guilty plea and sentencing was adjourned until this week for a social inquiry report.
Ms James provided a summary of the incident. Simpson and Kelly went to the bakery shortly before noon. Their faces were covered and Kelly was carrying an imitation firearm.
An employee saw them approaching the rear door and she went to lock it, but they managed to get in before she could do so. She was then threatened with the firearm and she opened the till, handing over CI$400.
An officer who examined the shop’s closed circuit television said he saw the man with the revolver – Kelly – hit the employee around the head while the other man – Simpson – placed the cash into a plastic bag.
The robbers then escaped on foot, abandoning the firearm and articles of clothing in the bush. The gun was found to be a flare gun that had been adapted to take shells.
Justice Malcolm pointed out that there was no evidence the gun had been loaded. “But that is small comfort to the person who has it pointed at them. They do not know whether it is a real gun or not and it is just as terrifying whether it is a real gun or not,” he said.
The judge noted that when Simpson was interviewed about the robbery, he initially lied, saying he was not involved.
The gun was subsequently examined and only Simpson’s DNA was found on it. It was accepted, however, that Kelly wore gloves.
The judge went on to consider sentencing guidelines for robbery and for young offenders.
“Small businesses like the Caribbean Bakery are easy targets for robbers, and in this day and age, it’s only too common for them to be attacked in the way that you and Kelly attacked. The courts should and will protect them and their staff from acts of robbery as you and Kelly committed,” he told Simpson.
Aggravating features of this offense included the wearing of masks and the use of a weapon, as well as the fact that there were two robbers. “The fact that there were two of you increases the terror,” he pointed out.
Defense attorney Guy Dillaway-Parry had urged the court to accept that what Simpson did that day was wholly out of character. The judge responded that it was no comfort to victims to know that a person robbing them is acting out of character.
He imposed a three-year sentence for the imitation firearm also, but made that run concurrently.