Threat with machete earns defendant conviction #11

POSTED: 03/21/13 12:46 PM

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance sentenced Gerard Richards to 6 weeks of imprisonment for threatening a man who sat in a car in front of his house on December 2 of last year. The prosecution demanded 2 months imprisonment. Richards won’t appeal the verdict.

Richards approached his victim with a machete in his hand. The victim and a witness both told investigators that the defendant was swinging the machete Richards maintained that had done nothing of the kind and that he just happened to hold it in his hand.

Judge René van Veen noted that the 32-year-old defendant has a criminal record going back to 1996. His record also shows convictions in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2011. “That’s quite a list,” the judge observed drily.

Asked what he does for a living, Richards said that he tints cars. “Are you able to make a living off that?” the judge wanted to know, and Richards claimed this to be the case.

“Neighborhood residents have good reasons to call the police,” Prosecutor Tineke Kamps said about the defendant’s complaint that his neighbors had been rather quick to call the police on December 2. “They do that instead of solving problems on their own. The defendant should do that more often as well. Many neighbors are extremely afraid of this defendant. They say that he is terrorizing the neighborhood.”

The prosecutor added that Richards would be more appreciated by his neighbors if he would not go for his machete that fast.

She considered the charge that he threatened his victim with a weapon proven and demanded 2 months of imprisonment with deduction of the eight days he spent behind bars in preventive custody in December.

Attorney Aernout Kraaijeveld told the court that his client had not had trouble with the police for quite some time and that he was going in the right direction. “He had the machete already in his hand when he walked up to the car, he did not get it to threaten the man,” the attorney said. Kraaijeveld considered the prosecution’s demand too severe: “I could imagine that my client gets a warning, but a prison sentence is going too far.”

Judge van Veen did not think that the defendant was taking his life in the right direction at all. “I do not agree with the defense,” he said. “On January 5, 2011 he was sentenced for armed robbery and within his probation period he committed another crime on October 12, 2011. And now, a bit more than a year later, he committed yet another crime.”

The court considered the charge proven, based on statements by the plaintiff, the defendant and a witness. The court confiscated the defendant’s machete.


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