Opinion: Charlie

POSTED: 06/10/11 2:08 PM

With Charlie Mileilis, an 18-year-old boy a couple of sizes too big for his age, St. Maarten has another example on its hands of a failed youth policy. Maybe this is not entirely correct because for a policy to fail there must be a policy in the first place. Maybe the story of Charlie Mileilis will inspire decision makers to take some action.

A bit more than a year ago, Charlie was in court for the first time. He was a minor then, just 16, but already he had a serious crime to his name. On October 18 of 2009, he had been in a fight with Gerald Junior Barnett. That fight ended ugly: Charlie stabbed his opponent in the chest and he went on trial for attempted manslaughter.

He got off with 370 days imprisonment of which 240 days were suspended and a 3-year probation period.

So when Charlie ripped the gold chain off the neck of a 72-year-old tourist on March 5, he was immediately in deep doo-doo. He was still on probation and it now stands to reason that the prosecutor’s office will soon ask the court to execute the suspended part of his attempted manslaughter conviction.

This time, Charlie got lucky again. He spent just 19 days in a police cell after the street robbery before the cell shortage situation bailed him out.

The court now sentenced him to 24 months (again, conditional, because it is not possible to execute a prison sentence for this type of offenders) and to 240 hours of community service.

End of story? We don’t think so. Charlie is a typical example of the lost generation, someone who goes to school but apparently does not learn a lot there.

He certainly did not learn anything from his attempted manslaughter conviction and then maybe he did not understand the meaning of the word suspended in his 2010 sentence.

Charlie took the chain from the tourist because he liked it. That was reason enough for this young man to commit a very ordinary street robbery that scared the living daylights out of the victim, who will, as prosecutor Ridderbeks put it, most likely never come back to St. Maarten again.

What to do with the Charlies of our society? It’s a good thing that the young man will be put to work. That ought to give him something to think about, but we fear that it won’t do anything to change his way of thinking or to improve his problem solving abilities.

Just consider what happened in 2009, when he stabbed Junior Burnett. The young defendant was at his father’s house where he had just eaten an orange when Burnett arrived on the scene. An argument ensued whereby Barnett hit Mileilis several times in his face. The defendant retaliated by stabbing his adversary with a knife he had just used to peel his orange. This action resulted in two deep cuts in Burnett’s hands, and two wounds to his upper body. One stab hit the victim’s liver. After a bystander had separated the two boys, Mileilis ran into his father’s house to get a machete. When he wanted to pursue Burnett with this weapon, bystanders restrained him.

When the Judge asked him last year why he had not walked away from the situation, he said that he was at his own house. “Why should I walk way?”

The teenager could have easily settled the fight with Barnett with his bare hands – given his sturdy posture.

The fact is – he didn’t first he stabbed Barnett with a knife, and then he wanted to go after him with a machete.

No anger management course, any form of community service or threat with a suspended sentence could have stopped Charlie from doing what he did. The proof is in the pudding: hardly a year after his attempted manslaughter conviction the teenager was back in court, this time for a “lighter” crime – though any victim of a street robbery will be able to tell how terrifying such an experience is. This is why we fear for Charlie’s future and for the future of all the other Charlies on our island.


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