St. Maarten Teenager on probation gets one last chance to clean up his act

POSTED: 09/23/11 12:42 PM

St. Maarten – Gilbert Ch. is not a teenager anymore but his childhood troubles cast a showdown over his immediate future. On January 26, the Court in First Instance sentenced him to an 18-month suspended prison sentence with 3 years of probation, 240 hours of community service and the obligation to follow the mentorship program at the Victorious Living Foundation. Six weeks after the verdict, the youngster was involved in a burglary in a house on Little Bay Road, where he functioned as the lookout at the request of some of his illustrious friends. The burglars took a laptop, cell phones, a flat-screen TV and a handbag with coins from the house. Gilbert Ch. received an undisclosed amount of money for his cooperation.

Yesterday he was in the Court in First Instance charged with the burglary and he was in for a firm tongue lashing from prosecutor mr. M.L.P. Ridderbeks. The prosecutor came real close to sending the youngster for 18 months to Pointe Blanche but decided in the end to give him one last chance to show that he is serious about making something of his life. Judge mr. M. Keppels postponed the trial at the prosecutor’s request to February 22 of next year.
That will give the defendant the time to do what he has to do: his community service and attending the mentorship program at the Victorious Living Foundation.
Judge Keppels remembered the January court case well.
“I told you I never wanted to see you here again. But this burglary happened six weeks after your conviction,” she said.
Gilbert Ch., who turned 18 on April 22, denied in court that he had been in the house, but forensic detectives found his fingerprints. He said reluctantly that he went in the house to retrieve a pair of sunglasses for one of his friends.
“I wasn’t thinking,” he mumbled when asked to explain his behavior.
“When will you start thinking,” an exasperated Judge Keppels asked.
“In January you were sentenced to a suspended 18 months prison sentence and 240 hours community service. Did you do it?”
“I did not know when I had to start,” the youngster answered but that did not go down too well. “It does not work that way,” Judge Keppels told him.
“You have to arrange that yourself. And if you don’t do it you have to go to jail for 18 months.”
The boy also said that he was working, but later on it turned out that he is helping out in a car wash on Saturdays and Sundays.
“On May 10 there was a report from the Rehabilitation Bureau that states you were not working at the time. You should be able to do your community service,” prosecutor Ridderbeks said. “You are wrong,” the defendant offered, but when Mr. Ridderbeks challenged him to explain that statement he sank into a long silence.

Gilbert Ch. was sentenced on January 26 for attempted manslaughter on E.C. Williams on November 3, 2009, and for a burglary at a house on August 26 of last year. The attempted man slaughter was a school fight whereby Ch. stabbed Williams in the stomach with a knife. The victim barely survived the attack.
Prosecutor Ridderbeks said that the defendant had almost been sent for psychiatric treatment to the Capriles clinic in 2009.
“This is the third time you break the law and you ignore a court ruling. We are not going to give you a third chance.”
But in the end, the prosecutor proposed to the court to postpone the trial until early next year to give Gilbert Ch. a very last opportunity to show that he intends to do better.
“I hope you realize the consequences,” she said.
“This is a tremendous proposal. I had not counted on it,” Ch.’s attorney mr. B.B. Brooks said.
Judge Keppels postponed the trial until February 22 of next year.
“Then I want to hear how you are doing. And I want to see you in this courtroom,” she said.

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