Community service for stealing safe from mother’s bedroom

POSTED: 09/3/11 12:06 AM

St. Maarten – A teenager and his 20-year old friend stood trial this week for stealing a safe that contained passports, $600, jewelry and other personal stuff. A remarkable case, because the safe has disappeared, and so has the boy’s own passport. The Court in First Instance sentenced 17-year old Mahonie Arrindell to a 2-month conditional prison sentence; his friend Alan Hodge got 4 months conditional.
Both youngsters will be under probation for two years. Hodge will have to perform 100 hours of community service; Arrindell has to do 80 hours.
The theft took place on March 11. That day, a youngster who was in court only identified as Ricky, came to Arrindell’s home in a car driven by a young girl called Melissa R .
The latter told police that he had come to the house “to pick up speakers” and that he had only realized later that he had a safe in his car. In court he claimed that he thought he was carrying a TV out of the house.
Arrindell, whose mother was in court to listen to her son, denied to the court that he had told his friends that he was looking for money in his mother’s bedroom.
Prosecutor Mr. B. den Hartigh said that both Arrindell and Hodge were present in the house on March 11 when the safe disappeared. The door to the mother’s bedroom was forced open. Den Hartigh said that Arrindell had called Hodge a couple of days before the theft, saying, “:I know a way to get money.”
“Hodge came with Ricky to the house with a plan to take things, together with Hodge,” the prosecutor said. “Arrindell was there as well. It is quite something, to steal stuff from your own mother together with your friends. I have a real concern about Arrindell’s future.”
Den Hartigh demanded 4 months conditional imprisonment against both defendants, with 2 years of probation, supervision by the Rehabilitation Bureau and 100 hours of community service.
Mr. B.B. Brooks saw no proof that her client Arrindell was in any way an accomplice. “He let a friend into the house. If that friend then commits a theft, who planned it? He told the police and the judge of instruction that Ricky took the safe and that he handed it over to Alan Hodge. My client should not become the victim of something two others did.”
Brooks said that her client had spent 25 days in custody at the police station and that this entitles him therefore to a 2-month sentence reduction. She also had her doubts about community service. “It takes often a very long time before they are able to begin. I have seen a big and positive change in behavior in my client. He deserves a second chance.”
Mr. A.A. Kraaijeveld said that the defendants are pointing fingers at each other. “There is no statement in the file from Melissa R. while such a statement could possibly speak in favor of my client. His interests have been harmed by this.”
Kraaijeveld suggested that the court ought to call the girl as a witness, in which case the trial would have to be postponed; otherwise, he said, there have to be consequences. He said that Hodge works in his mother’s daycare center and that he doubts the truthfulness of statements made by Arrindell and his mother. “Hodge came to pick up speakers and realized only later that he had a safe,” the attorney said.
He asked the court to acquit his client, or at least to take into account that he had spent 28 days in a police cell.
Prosecutor den Hartigh admitted that the investigation in this case could have been more profound. “But the police are seriously understaffed. They are at 30 percent below critical strength. Maintaining law and order in St. Maarten is not what it ought to be. I would have preferred a more thorough investigation as well.”
Judge Mr. M. Keppels admitted that the investigation could have been more extensive. “But this does not mean that the defendants are not having a fair trial,” she said. The Judge considered the charges proven: “The defendants made a plan to pick up money from Arrindell’s house.”

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