Photographic evidence proves useful in a burglary case
IN A RARE move, the prosecution energized their case, which was one of a burglary and theft of four boxes of ‘Monster’ drinks, with photographs of the crime scene.
It may have been this power-up that helped the prosecution secure the conviction of Tralist Roberts, a 40-year-old block maker, last Friday. Roberts was found guilty of, between August 30 and 31, in Arnos Vale, entering the ‘Amigo Tacos’ snackette as a trespasser, and stealing four boxes of ‘Monster’ energy drink, valued $160, the property of Raphick Foster of Arnos Vale.
As the defendant’s trial was moving swiftly along, one of the witnesses who took the stand for the crown, was a surprise to the court.
This was PC 934 Roache, who had studied crime scene photography, and who presented to the court in his evidence, six photographs of the crime scene.
The photos showed the ‘Amigo Tacos’ shop, located on the compound of the St James School of Medicine at Arnos Vale, captured later in the morning after the burglary was said to have occurred.
The pictures gave Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett a visual of the inside and the outside of the shop, the entrance, the broken padlocks from the door, and the close-up of a foreign hammer lying inside.
The constable later told SEARCHLIGHT that this was so that the magistrate could have a visual idea of the scene instead of describing it to him using only words. Photographs are commonly used in more serious offences.
Burnett noted after the PC gave evidence that, “in my seven years as a magistrate…this is the first time I am seeing this type of evidence in a burglary matter,” hinting that this was an improvement.
Roberts had no questions in cross examination for PC Roache, as presumably he could not argue with photographic evidence.
Other than the photos, the evidence was that Roberts had been spotted on the compound of the medical school, along with another man, in the wee hours of that Friday morning by the school’s security guard. She had called the police, who descended on the university.
One of the policemen apparently saw Roberts peeking out from the Taco shop, and he ordered him to step outside of the shop. The police officers were familiar with the defendant before this, and had recognized him.
A bag containing the energy drinks was apparently right behind Roberts.
After being nabbed by the police, the accused was identified by the security guard as one of the men she saw prowling the compound.
Roberts said his friend, one Velox, who is charged differently and separately, went to see some friends. The defendant said that Velox then told him “leh we go pon a hustle,” and he asked his friend what kind of hustle.
He said he was led to the building, and there he sat waiting on his friend, and did not participate in breaking and entering. He was sitting there when the police found him, and supposedly showed him the bag, and started to beat him.
“He said he going on a hustle. You ask him what kinda hustle?…He told you what kinda hustle you going on?” Prosecutor Corlene Samuel cross-examined.
“No please,” Roberts responded.
He was asked what kind of ‘hustle’ Velox normally does, and to this he returned that Velox sells mangoes among other things.
“You know your partner…have shares in the medical college?” Samuel asked him, to which the response was, “No please.”
“But you sit down and you watch him break into the college?” she insisted.
The accused had no witnesses.
After all was said and done, the senior magistrate stated that there was enough evidence to convict Roberts.
The magistrate noted as he considered the sentence for Roberts, that Roberts had built up quite the ‘criminal career.’
“I looked at the police report last night, from the previous day, I think I saw about five burglaries right here in St Vincent, you understand? That is a problem…And the court has to send a clear message to you, and to others who may want to contemplate doing those things,” Burnett stated.
The magistrate noted the nature of the offence, being burglary, and noted that he had sentenced an individual who broke into a shop on the Leeward side to four years before. “The public said I was harsh because all they saw was the value of the item that the person had…maybe if it was a million dollars stolen then the sentence would have been okay, but people do not appreciate these things at all,” he mused.
While noting that Parliament has allotted a maximum sentence of 14 years for burglary, Burnett handed down a term of imprisonment of four years.
Roberts remained unfazed, and only came back to the dock to remind that the time he has spent in jail already should be subtracted.