Chance for stealing teen to get his life in order

POSTED: 09/13/12 1:05 PM

St. Maarten – A 15-year-old boy got off light in the Court in First Instance yesterday because of his age. The young man was found guilty of stealing two iPhones at the Divi Little Bay Resort on April 1 and of threatening a security guard with a machete. Judge Tamara Tijhuis sentenced the teenager conform prosecutor Dounia Benammar’s demand to a 400 guilders (close to $225) conditional fine, 40 hours of community service and supervision by the Court of Guardianship. This institution could also order the defendant to follow a program at the Victorious Living Foundation. The court imposed 2 years of probation.

Defendants under the age of 16 can by law only be punished with a fine. Demanding a conditional fine opened the way for the court to impose the above mentioned conditions.

On April 1, the defendant stole an iPhone from a hotel room at the Divi resort; the second phone he took away from the office of the water ski rental booth. The young man was in the company of a second boy.

He told the court that he had found the first phone on a wall, while he claimed to have found the second phone on the ground behind the water ski rental booth.

While he told police that he had found one of the phones “on a green car” he denied this statement in court; however, the second boy told the police the same thing. Asked whether the boys had agreed to say this, the defendant denied again.

“All this is difficult to believe,” Judge Tijhuis said.

When the boys were stopped by a security guard, after the woman working at the water ski rental booth discovered that her office had been searched and that her phone was gone, the defendant had pulled a machete from his backpack. He told the court that he had given it to a security guard because he did not want the police to find it in his possession.

When Judge Tijhuis reminded the boy that his companion had told the security guard, “I am going to fuck you up” while he was pulling the machete from his backpack, he said he had not heard this remark.

A guest at the Divi resort stated to the police that he had left his phone in his room with the sliding door unlocked. When he returned to his room, the phone was gone.

After security had alerted the police, officers saw the two boys on the parking lot of the adjacent Belair Hotel. When the second boy saw the police he dropped something in the grass. This turned out to be the two stolen phones.

Prosecutor Benammar considered the thefts and the threats to the security guard proven. “In a couple of months the defendant will be 16,” she said. The law protects minors up to the age of 16 to make sure they get the help they need – and I agree with that. But once you are 16, the prosecution is able to ask the court to apply adult law, and for threatening someone with a machete we would certainly do that. When you sue this kind of violence you could end up in jail for two to three years.”

The young man spent ten days behind bars after his arrest on April 1. “I believe you have a problem,” mr. Benammar told the defendant. “You need help and you have to take medication instead of marijuana; that has a bad effect on your brain.”

The prosecutor included community service in her demand: “You have to feel that what you did is not right. This is an opportunity to get your life in order and I hope you’ll grab it.”

Attorney  Nerissa de La Rosa asked the court to acquit her client of threatening the security guard. “He did not threaten anybody. On the contrary, he gave the machete to the security guard and he is the one who started swinging it. The threats were uttered by the other boy.”

Prosecutor Benammar disagreed saying the boys had committed the crimes together and that, even though the other boy had verbally threatened the guard, they are both accountable for it.

Judge Tijhuis considered all charges proven and noted that the boys had used the threats to facilitate their escape. “The demand by the prosecutor is fitting,” mr. Tijhuis said. “This is a chance to get your life in order. Listen to your parents as well.”

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