Teen jailed for six years on robbery charge
History is repeating itself for 19-year-old Raheem DaSilva, who was taken away by the state when he was a child, and now he is being taken away again, to be incarcerated for six years.
DaSilva was convicted for robbery on November 1, and faced sentencing at the High Court for his crime last Friday.
In deciding on a sentence, Justice Brian Cottle considered the view of the victim in the matter, Phillip Alexander, who was robbed of $2,000 (disputed figure) on April 19, 2018. Alexander had indicated that although he felt DaSilva should be punished, he did not think the punishment should be too excessive.
DaSilva’s biological mother also came to court on Friday, November 29, to plead that her son receive a second chance and that the court show him leniency. She told Cottle that both she and her son have had hard lives.
Her words were supported by the outcome of a social inquiry report that indicated that DaSilva grew up under harsh circumstances. His father is said to have abused his mother, and so DaSilva was taken away from this situation by the state when he was just four years old. At the time of the robbery he was living on his own in an abandoned house.
The fact that $350 of the stolen money was recovered, and DaSilva was only 19 at the time, were mitigating factors to the court.
However, DaSilva had previous convictions and he had tried to used methods to conceal his identity when committing the crime, which served to aggravate the offence.
The maximum prison time that could be spent for the offence is 30 years. However, the court now works with sentencing guidelines from the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court(ECSC).
In the categories of harm, and seriousness of the offence, as outlined by the guidelines, Cottle is said to have placed the offence in level ‘b’ for both of these areas. The starting point for the robbery therefore was 25 per cent of the maximum (30 years).
From this point, the other factors were considered by the judge, who arrived at a final sentence of six years. However, DaSilva has already been on remand for the offence for one year, seven months and six days, and so he must spend a further four years, four months and 24 days.
The young defendant was convicted by a nine-member jury after a full trial. For this trial, crown counsel Renée Simmons was prosecuting, and DaSilva represented himself.
The jury believed that on the date in question, Alexander, a builder from Frenches, was waiting in his car for his girlfriend who was doing her hair at a hairdresser nearby.
It was 9 pm, and while waiting, listening to the radio, with all the windows rolled down, Alexander fell asleep.
He was dozing when he felt something smash into his face. The sleeping man woke to grab the object that was assaulting him, and believing that it was a gun, asked “Oh God…Somebody send you to kill me?”
Alexander was told by the figure, who was wearing a batman-type mask, to hand over his money. “Is just so you want to dead,” the assailant asked him, he said.
Alexander was also hit in the stomach with the object, and so, he said all he could do was to reach into his wallet and take out his money.
However, during this exchange Alexander had begun to speak loudly in the hopes that his girlfriend would hear him.
The hairdresser was alerted by his cries, and ran outside. This woman recognized DaSilva, and ran towards him cursing, calling his name, and asking if he was going to rob Alexander just like that.
DaSilva is said to have frozen when his name was called, but he fled when the fearless hairdresser approached him, regardless of the fact that he had a “gun”. Two welded pieces of steel in the shape of a gun were later found in the abandoned house that he was staying in.
The hairdresser who said that Raheem was “born in my hand” noted that DaSilva had been seen on all of her different CCTV cameras moments before the robbery.