In first ruling based on new penal code: Scary Movie Gang member loses call for early releasePOSTED: 08/6/15 6:44 PM
St. Maarten – Rignald Armando Richardson, a one-time member of the Scary Movie Gang lost his appeal to a decision by the Minister of Justice not to grant him conditional release. Richardson, who celebrated his 34th birthday in the Pointe Blanche prison on Saturday, was up for conditional release on June 1, but the ministry postponed it by 6 months because it found that Richardson had violated prison rules on several occasions.
The ruling against Richardson is the first one of its kind based on the new penal code. The inmate has a long criminal record.
In March 2009, he was released from prison after serving 5 years for his role in the Scary Movie Gang robberies – a sentence dating back to 2006. The Scary Movie Gang committed three armed robberies and two burglaries between September 2 and October 27, 2005. Targets of these crimes were the Coliseum Casino (where the gang made off with between $2,000 and $3,000), Travel Planners, the Beach Plaza Casino, Prime Distributors, and Klass Electronics. At the scene of these robberies the gang left notes behind that read: Scary Movie was here.
Scary Movie is a comedy that parodies the horror-movie genre. The first Scary Movie was released in 2000 and followed by several sequels.
Eight months after his release, on November 8, 2009, Richardson robbed a security guard at the Rudy Labega School of $110, a pair of handcuffs and a pepper spray. He tied up the guard and gagged him. Richardson would later say in court that he needed the money to pay his utility bill.
Less than a week later he robbed the same security guard again who was this time in the company of a female colleague. Richardson tied them up with the handcuffs he’d stolen earlier. He also masterminded a robbery at a gas station on November 3, 2009.
In February 2010, Richardson stood trial. He made an apathetic and absent-minded impression and, according to his attorney Geert Hatzmann, he heard voices in his head.
The Court in First Instance sentenced Richardson on February 24, 2010 to 7 years of imprisonment for the robberies.
His first possible early release date was June 1 of this year, but the justice ministry blocked that and ruled that he had to serve six more months.
The reason for this decision is based on an advice from the Central College for Rehabilitation. It states that Richardson was caught in prison in the possession of marijuana on May 26, 2013, that he refused to follow an order from prison staff on October 27 and that he had unspecified illegal items in his possession on March 19 of this year.
Furthermore, on March 18 he was tested on drug use but the urine he supplied was not fit for the test. The next day he was again given the opportunity to provide a urine sample, but he refused.
Richardson’s attorney Shaira Bommel told the court that there is no support for the advice of the Central College from the Rehabilitation Bureau SJIB. Her client also denied that he refused to cooperate with the urine test and there is no proof that the bags found in his possession indeed contained marijuana.
The court ruling described the legal framework that applies to conditional release, based on the new penal code. Conditional release applies to sentences of at least one year of which the inmate has served two-third. There are however several grounds for a decision to postpone conditional release – one of them being that the inmate seriously misbehaved during his detention.
The court notes in its ruling that the justice ministry does not have a policy for conditional release and that it therefore has to judge on a case-by-case basis,
The court ruled that the report about marijuana possession is correct. Richardson could have objected to its contents, but he did not. The court also found that the inmate refused to cooperate with the urine test. “The plaintiff did deny – up to three times – that he did not comply with the request to provide urine. He said he was only prepared to do this in the presence of a doctor.”
The court considers this explanation implausible. “Demanding such a condition by an inmate is not justified and not workable.”
The court concluded that the justice minister had every reason to postpone Richardson’s conditional release and therefore declared his appeal against the decision unfounded. The inmate’s next release date is now December 1. He has been imprisoned since November 16, 2009 and will have served a bit more than six year upon his release.