Student gets community service for breaking bus driver’s jaw

POSTED: 05/12/11 12:57 PM

St. Maarten – “The worst boy on the bus” was in court yesterday and he did not get off lightly. Cairon Jamaal Herbert, a 17-year-old student with an attitude who hit a bus driver six times and broke his jaw was sentenced to a 9 month conditional prison sentence and 180 hours of community service in the Court in First Instance. Judge Mr. M. Keppels imposed a probation period of 2 years.

The incident happened on February 15. Herbert had boarded the bus to go home to Cole Bay when the driver told him that he had to sit down instead of standing up. Herbert muttered that there was no space to sit, and let his anger over the driver’s remark boil until the bus arrived in Cole Bay.

There Herbert walked up to the driver and started to hit him. According to the student the bus had stopped, but witnesses and the driver said that this was not the case. The driver lost control of the bus, drove onto a pavement and hit a water pipe, before he managed to push Herbert out of the bus after a struggle.

The bus driver suffered a broken jaw and had to be flown to Curacao for treatment.

“I regret what I did because I was locked up for it and I will get a criminal record. Then I won’t be able to get a job,” the defendant told the court.

“What about the driver? Judge Keppels wanted to know, but there was no direct answer from the boy, though his attorney mr. S.R. Bommel said that he was willing to pay the medical cost.

“And how are you going to do that? You are seventeen and you are at school,” Keppels said.

The boy said that he would look for an after-school job.

The driver, who was in court to follow the proceedings, told the Judge that Herbert was “the worst child on the bus.”

While Herbert maintained that he had hit the driver only once, prosecutor mr. G. van der Wulp found proof that he had actually hit the man six times. She found no proof for causing grievous bodily harm, but went instead for intentional ill-treatment. “You waited until the bus was in Cole Bay, and you said that you could not hit him while he was driving,” Van der Wulp said.

The prosecutor told the youngster that school bus drivers are entitled to respect from the students they transport. “He had an important public function and what you did is incomprehensible. There is no excuse for it. You did not even think about the safety of the other students on the bus, you had to vent your anger.”

Van der Wulp noted that the defendant has a serious problem with managing his anger. She demanded a 1 year conditional prison sentence and 180 hours of community service with 2 years of probation.

Attorney Bommel pointed out that her client had gone to the police by himself to tell what had happened and that the driver also had been attacked by other students. She also referred to a letter from one of the boy’s teachers who expressed his amazement about the incident, since there are never any problems with the kid at school. “He is sorry for what happened,” Bommel told the court, “and it should not have happened.”

She asked the court to mitigate the punishment, but Judge Keppels only cut a piece of the conditional prison term. The boy spent nine days in detention in February.

He had to be pushed to make a public apology to the driver, but his words did not ring true. When he left the courthouse a short while later, he walked straight past the driver without looking at him. His mother stopped to shake hands with him to apologize for her son’s behavior.


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