Thefts from two George Town businesses resulted in a suspended sentence of four months’ imprisonment for a man with 57 previous convictions.
Joel Jason Smith, 53, pleaded guilty to both charges. Defense attorney John Furniss said drugs had been Mr. Smith’s problem. He suggested a sentence that would require the offender to attend counseling and comply with the counselor’s instructions, with the threat of prison hanging over him.
“There has to be something that puts pressure on him [to change],” he urged.
Crown counsel Kerri-Ann Gillies said police were on patrol in George Town around 4 a.m. on June 17 last year when they observed the defendant pushing a trolley laden with scaffolding and bracing materials.
They asked his reason for having the items and he said he had just borrowed them to do some work. He pointed to a nearby building which had similar scaffolding material around.
The following day, the owner of a construction company attended the police station. He said he had not given permission for anyone to remove the items from the work site.
While awaiting disposal of this case, Mr. Smith told authorities he had another charge, relating to a theft from a nursery on Walkers Road. He subsequently pleaded guilty to that offense and criminal trespass, which occurred on May 1, 2018.
The owner of the nursery discovered that a wheelbarrow and a number of plants had been stolen. CCTV showed the defendant removing plants from an outside area. A police officer recognized him on the tape. When spoken to, Mr. Smith admitted stealing the items to pay for drugs.
Mr. Furniss said his client had come to court and asked to go to Caribbean Haven, for its residential drug rehabilitation program. He had done well, but then employment was offered to him. He applied to be allowed to leave the facility to work. Then he did not go back, so he was treated as someone who had basically discharged himself and, as a result, was arrested and kept in custody.
Mr. Furniss noted that the defendant had a community service order to complete because of traffic offenses. He submitted that the two thefts did not mean that the sentence had to be custody.
The magistrate said she did not see anything other than a custodial sentence.
Mr. Furniss asked for it to be suspended so that Mr. Smith could do his community service and seek help for the drug problem.
The magistrate imposed concurrent sentences of four months for the thefts, suspending them for two years. She placed Mr. Smith on probation with conditions for 12 months for the offense of failing to surrender to custody on a date last year.