Police attacker gets away lightly

Bus Conductor, seventeen-year-old Jamie Stewart, who was involved in an altercation with Corporal of Police, Albert Roberts in the Town of St. George earlier this year can consider himself to be rather lucky.

The youngster did not receive the maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars at Her Majesty’s Prison for the attack on the police officer following an incident that took place in close proximity to the Bus Terminus.

Last week Wednesday Stewart appeared for sentencing at the St. George’s High Court Number 1 and was placed on an 18-month suspended sentence with specific conditions.

The assault on the police officer occurred on January 22nd on Halifax Street when the police officer, who is attached to the Traffic Department of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF), observed Stewart illegally taking on passengers in a mini bus plying the Grand Anse route.

Stewart, who will this week complete a six-month prison term at Prison for resisting arrest in the same incident, was initially charged with a number of offences including assault on a police officer, damage of personal property, damage of government property, behaving in a disorderly manner, acting as a Bus Conductor without a permit and taking on passengers.

However, the charges were eventually consolidated into two indictable offences (violence against a peace officer and aggrevated assault), each carrying a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

The accused pleaded guilty to violence against a peace officer but not guilty to the charge of aggrevated assault, which was eventually dismissed by the court.

As part of the judgment handed down by Madam Justice Margaret Price-Findlay, if Stewart is convicted of any offence within the next 2 years he would “serve the 18 months in addition to any additional sentences” deemed fit by the presiding court.

The 17-year-old resident of Archibald Avenue in St. George’s was also placed on an EC$ 10, 000 bond to keep the peace for a period of 3 years with 2 sureties and in default serve 18 years in jail.

The bus conductor was also ordered to undergo anger management counselling with quarterly reports provided to the Court – in default 18 months imprisonment, as well as conduct 350 hours of community service at the St. George’s Fish Market on Melville Street commencing Saturday (August 15).

In handing down  judgment, Madam Justice Price-Findlay noted that it is unfortunate that at such a tender age Jamie has a criminal record at both the Magistrate and High Court levels.

The female judge also ordered the teenager, who was allegedly beaten by police officers while being transported from the scene of the incident to the Central Police Station on The Carenage, to compensate Cpl 38 Roberts in the amount of EC$5, 000 to be paid in monthly installments of EC$300 commencing September 30th, 2015.

According to the ruling, the payments will have to be made on the last day of each month and in default of any installment, Jamie will be sent back to the Richmond Hill prison to serve 18 months.

Senior Crown Counsel and Acting Director of Public Prosecutions at the time, Howard Pinnock, who was sitting in for his junior, Crisan Greenidge,  who conducted the case reminded the court that Cpl Roberts received constant blows from the teenager for approximately 15 minutes before the altercation came to an end.

During the sentence hearing, it was revealed that as a result of the beating, the police officer received 3 stitches to the inside of his mouth, among several other injuries.

He was forced to take sick leave twice (January 23rd – 29th and January 30th – February 11th).

This newspaper understands that following Stewart’s’ arrest for the January 22nd altercation, he spent the majority of the night at the General Hospital in St. George’s nursing a broken arm, a swollen eye and a busted mouth.

His defense lawyer, Peter David did not request compensation for Stewart’s injuries during the hearing but told the court that his client got upset when the police officer stopped the bus for the alleged infringement of the law.

It was reported that Stewart began using certain offensive language, and the officer told him that he was under arrest and held onto him by the back of his pants and was proceeding to carry him away to the police station. Stewart retaliated and the police officer suffered injuries in the process.

Attorney David attributed his client’s behaviour to his youthful age and rough upbringing and also advanced to the court that Stewart has an anger problem and asked the judge to consider a non-custodial sentence and a programme that would keep him on a tight leash.

Jamie, whose police record is now marred by the two indictable offenses apologised to the court for his actions and also to Cpl Roberts.

Speaking with THE NEW TODAY newspaper following the judgement, Cpl 38 Roberts expressed satisfaction with the ruling handed down.

He said that he has forgiven Jamie for what he did, noting that everyone makes mistakes.
“Yes I am satisfied…he is young he made a mistake…and I forgive him…”, the police officer added.

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