Sentences for five burglaries, one attempted burglary, one theft and other offenses could have added up to almost 18 years when Sean Roy Scott was dealt with in Summary Court earlier this month.
Instead, because of the principle of totality, Magistrate Valdis Foldats determined that six years was a just and proportionate sentence that reflected all of the offending behavior. Then he applied credit for guilty pleas and periods when Scott was under a curfew or in a halfway house.
The magistrate said Scott, now 36, deserved the full 50 percent credit for those periods “because there was a lot of control over your life.” Those periods equaled 56 months between April 2011 and December 2016. With the half credit of 28 months subtracted from six years, the final sentence was 44 months.
“We’ve tried to help you over a long period of time,” the magistrate told Scott. “There is nothing more we can do, so you have to decide what you’re going to do going forward.”
Help extended by the court had included bail with curfew, conditions that allowed for attending recovery meetings and 132 days’ residence in a halfway house. Scott had been monitored for a time by the professional team attached to the informal mental health court. Psychological and psychiatric testing showed him to be an intelligent man, possibly with a high IQ and possibly in the autism spectrum, which would not be easy to treat. People quoted in a social inquiry report hoped he would get assistance in custody, the magistrate summed up.
The offending behavior began on March 30, 2011, when Scott broke into the Lions Aquatic Centre and stole two laptops valued at $800 each, two camcorders valued at $300 each, and $100 in cash. He was convicted after trial and sentenced, but won his appeal to the Grand Court, which ordered a retrial. However, before that took place, he entered a guilty plea. Magistrate Foldats imposed a term of 11 months.
On April 11, 2011, Scott entered two apartments in a George Town complex with intent to steal. In one of the premises he stole CI$166 and some U.S. cash. There was little planning but some ransacking, the magistrate observed before handing down sentences of 30 months concurrent.
On Dec. 17, 2011, Scott attempted to enter an apartment in another area of George Town during the day, but the owner came home and surprised him. This offense was committed while on bail, so the sentence was three years.
On Jan. 11, 2013, he broke into a car and stole a wallet with personal items. For the theft and damage, he received seven months.
The burglary on Sept. 13, 2014, was the most serious because the victim was home at the time, the magistrate said. The resident had locked her door before going to bed; in the morning, the door was closed but not locked. Electronic goods plus cash with a total value of $1,880 had been stolen. The magistrate imposed four years for this offense.
There was an incident of “bizarre behavior” when Scott caused alarm and distress to a West Bay resident through his actions outside her residence on Dec. 22, 2015. Sentence for this offense was four months.
The last offense was a burglary at a West Bay Road condominium that was almost closer to a theft, the magistrate commented. On Dec. 12, 2016, a cleaner was at the premises and the door was open. Scott reached in and stole a Galaxy cellphone.
Defense attorney John Furniss spoke in mitigation, urging the court to consider totality and whether sentences should be concurrent or consecutive.
The totality principle states that when a court is sentencing for more than a single offense, it should pass a sentence that reflects all the offending behavior.
“It is usually impossible to arrive at a just and proportionate sentence for multiple offending simply by adding together notional single sentences,” the 2015 Sentencing Guidelines state.
“It is necessary to address the offending behavior, together with the factors personal to the offender as a whole.”
Further, “where consecutive sentences are imposed, the combined sentence should not be unduly long or harsh.”