Bail denied for handbag theft

Defendant said he had not eaten for three days

A man who was chased and caught after stealing a tourist’s handbag at Smith Cove had bail withheld when he appeared in Summary Court on Monday. 

Al Handell Pearson, 42, pleaded guilty to stealing the handbag just before noon on Dec. 30. He had been in custody since the incident. 

Defense attorney Nicholas Dixey made the application for bail, pointing out that the bag was immediately recovered and nothing had been removed from it. 

Crown counsel Nicole Petit objected to bail. She said the complainant was a visitor who had disembarked from the cruise ship Carnival Breeze. She, her spouse and daughter went to Smith Cove, where she left her bag on the beach but within her view. 

She was in the water, about 50 feet from shore, when she saw a man approaching the bag. She shouted at him to stop, but he grabbed the bag and took off running toward the main road. She and her husband gave chase and, as the man crossed the street, he tripped. It was at that stage that he was caught, Ms. Petit said. Police were called and he was arrested. 

Interviewed later that day, Pearson admitted the theft, telling police he had not eaten for three days and found himself in a desperate situation. 

“I saw this as easy pickings and decided to snatch the bag, against my better judgment,” Ms. Petit quoted him as saying. 

Pearson said he was sorry and accepted that there were other avenues he should have taken, Ms. Petit concluded. 

Mr. Dixey said the defendant was a man of means who received $1,200 per month from rental apartments and another $400 per month for his work with a Jet Ski business. 

“How can he be in a desperate situation?” Magistrate Valdis Foldats asked. 

The attorney explained that Pearson had saved his money to put on a property. What little cash he had left, he had carried in a pack on the back of a Jet Ski and he had lost it. 

Mr. Dixey accepted that Pearson had a record of previous convictions that showed a level of recidivism, but said his client was absolutely adamant that he did not have a drug problem. 

“He understands he should have done things differently. He was on the beach. He saw the bag. It was opportunistic,” Mr. Dixey summarized. 

The magistrate said that the offense might not look serious in one way, but the theft was from a tourist at a popular tourist destination. The court had to deter such offending, and the primary way of doing so was with a prison sentence, he said. 

“I’m very concerned that this was a sober, albeit impulsive decision,” the magistrate added, describing it as an antisocial decision. 

He ordered a social inquiry report and set sentencing for March 7. The defendant was remanded in custody until then.