“Who is guarding the guards?”
Those were the words uttered by Chief Magistrate, Her Honour Tamara Gill as she handed down two-year jail sentences on two security guards who pleaded guilty to housebreaking, and stealing charges.
Lincoln Briggs of Mont Toute, St. George’s, and Andy Wankin of Tempe, St. George’s who are employed as security guards at the St. George’s University (SGU) were sentenced on Tuesday to two years each on each count, which is to run concurrently.
Briggs and Wankin are said to be among several SGU Security Officers who are involved in robbing students at the university of their personal items including laptop computers.
33 year old Briggs who has been employed at SGU for four years was convicted of stealing articles belonging to Medical Students Samantha Engeles and Catherine Lett valued at $14,789.00.
His colleague, Wankin stole articles valued at US $790 that belonged to fellow Medical Student, Jace Varkey. Those offenses took place in June.
The court learnt that on June 23, Engeles left her laptop computer on a desk in her bedroom, and an I-Pad in her backpack that was also in her bedroom and went away to a nearby party.
Upon returning to her room at about 3:00 a.m. she discovered both items missing.
The SGU Student who reported the matter to the police was able to positively identify the laptop and the I-Pad at the South St. George Police Station on November 13.
Police Prosecutor, Corporal Vah Hercules who presented the facts to the court said Briggs told the police he had given the items to someone known as Andre who paid him $1,200 for two computers and $900.00 for the I-Pad.
The police also recovered ten laptop computers in the course of their investigation.
The probe also led the lawmen to a shop at the Grand Anse Housing Scheme that is operated by someone known as Glenroy Hosten on June 8.
The court was told that Hosten informed the police that sometime during the month of July, Briggs gave him a Dell Laptop Computer for the $300.00 he had owed him for groceries.
Lett who shares accommodation on the campus with her female colleague, Engeles left her computer in the care of a cleaner on August 16 at 3:00 p.m. to use the bathroom.
When she returned the lights where she was studying were turned off and the cleaner told her he did not know anything about the whereabouts of her stuff.
The court learnt that the other stealing incident involved Wankin who has been employed at SGU for three years.
On September 28, Varkey said he secured his headphone and a laptop computer valued at US $499.00 at about 6:00 p.m. inside of his room and went away. When he returned at about 10:45 p.m. he discovered the items missing
Almost two months later on November 16, he was able to identify the items at the South St. George Police Station.
Both Briggs and Wankin confessed to the court that they knew the complaints in the case brought against them.
One of the medical students came forward and disclosed that she is closely acquainted with Briggs since they both played Basketball together.
Defense Counsel, Peter David made a passionate plea for the convicted men not to be given a custodial sentence at the Richmond Hill prison.
David who is the Member of Parliament for the Town of St. George said the convicted men accepted responsibility for their actions from the time the police picked them up for questioning.
He spoke of the two accused persons being deeply remorseful and apologetic for what they did.
According to the defense lawyer, there is no rehabilitation at the prison and suggested that the State would not benefit from a custodial sentence of the convicted men as they are not candidates for such punishment.
Magistrate Gill rejected the plea made by David and chided both Briggs and Wankin for their actions against the students.
She pointed out that having been acquainted with the students, they must be aware of how important the computers are to them and their studies and that they had sufficient time to reflect on what they did.
The Chief Magistrate said the court cannot sit back and allow security guards to do such things, and just give a slap on the wrist.
In light of the other names of Security Guards mentioned in the case by the Police Prosecutor, Magistrate Gill told court that she expects some charges would also be laid on those accomplices in the crimes committed against SGU students.