Sweet pepper thief jailed for eight months
A 43 year old sweet pepper thief from Ginger Village, failed to get away with his crime after swiping 100 pounds of the most unique sweet peppers in St Vincent and the Grenadines(SVG).
Therefore, for stealing $435 worth of the fruit from a farm in Akers, between November 13 and 14, 2019, Arnol Dasent will spend eight months in prison.
Before convicting the defendant, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne, reviewed the evidence at the end of Dasent’s trial last week Friday, February 7.
Browne commented that the farmer, Advira Bennett-Hazell, of Mesopotamia “was very careful to outline that the types of sweet peppers she plants are special and unique in that those breeds did not exist in St Vincent, she having brought them in for the first time.”
The peppers were a mix of Big Red, Cubanelles, and a third variety which was a mix.
“She outlined that she had tested them to see the yield that they would have brought forward before she went into production of these three types of sweet pepper,” the Chief Magistrate noted.
Therefore, Bennett-Hazell had given evidence that she was able to identify her peppers on the table of vendor, Victoria Small.
In her evidence, Small told the court that she bought the peppers from Dasent, who had assured her that he had land, and had planted them himself.
The transaction involved $160 passing from Small to Dasent, and Dasent commenting that this was good because he was going to “deal with a phone”.
Dasent tried to say that he did not know Small, but Small was adamant that she bought the peppers from him.
The magistrate noted that the defendant had mentioned under cross examination that he did not know what time he got to work on November 13, because he had lost his phone.
“Putting all things together, especially that piece of evidence,” Browne concluded, “that ties sweetly into the evidence of Miss Small who said on receipt of money, you said you going right now to deal with a phone.”
For the two reasons- that the complainant was very clear on the peppers that she owned, as well as the facts tying into Dasent’s own story, the magistrate decided to accept the prosecution’s story.
To add to his troubles, Dasent had a criminal record to his name.
However, counsel, Roderick Jones, who was hired on the last day of the trial by the Ginger Village resident, tried to establish that his client was making an effort to change.
Jones said that the regularity and seriousness of the offences had decreased over time, and the last time he was convicted was in 2014.
“This might be Mr Dasent’s attempt to head in a different direction. The fact that he could have steered clear of the law between 2014 and 2019 your honour, is evidence of a concerted effort to change, to change and to be a better person,” Jones posited.
The lawyer was of the opinion that his client would not benefit from a custodial sentence.
On the other hand, Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche, who has consistently taken a hard line with offenders charged for praedial larceny, lamented that it has become an epidemic in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“Every day, as we speak now, somebody ‘thiefing’ some farmer ting,” he stated, adding that it “has to stop.”
Quoting from a song Delpesche continued “you think it easy for a farmer fuh sit down whole day and plant or plough the land and nuttin happen.
“And then lo behold tief man come and tief your goods, sell your goods fuh buy phone,” causing the farmer to have to replant?
“Don’t tief people ting, it’s not yours own, don’t trouble it,” the prosecutor emphasized, saying that this was the strong message that had to be sent.
In sentencing the 43 year old, the magistrate was also of the opinion that farmers in SVG really need to be protected.
Browne said she considered a number of things, notably that Dasent had specifically targeted the complainant, as the peppers were ready and waiting to be picked.
All things considered, she handed him an eight month prison sentence, and compensation of $435EC to Bennett-Hazell, to be paid forthwith, with three months incarceration in default.