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Teenage police station burglars dealt different hands of fate

Teenage police station burglars dealt different hands of fate
Kevin Stapleton (forefront centre) walks out of court with a community of supporters, including Principal of the Bishop’s College Kingstown (BCK) Cecelia Akers-King (right, forefront)

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For the first timer who broke into the Georgetown Police station, a whole host of people pleaded his case, and he was given a second chance at sentencing this Monday.

Kevin Stapleton, 16 years, happened to be well represented before the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, by his principal, and those who knew him from the Liberty Lodge Boys’ Training Centre, and importantly, he did not have criminal history.

Stapleton, along with Shemore James, 17 years, had previously pleaded guilty to executing a burglary against the police station in their district last Monday, and making off with three bikes, all exhibits.

Investigations followed the realization that three bikes, one pedal and two motorbikes, were missing from the exhibit room, and led the police to the home of one of the defendants, where the bikes were found.

Teenage police station burglars dealt different hands of fate
Principal of Bishop’s College Kingstown (BCK) Cecelia Akers-King (fourth from left) guides Kevin Stapleton out of the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court by holding his hand, along with social worker Rhonda Charles (first from left), Counselor at the Liberty Lodge Boys Training Centre, one Benjamin-Prescott (second from left) and Counselor at the BCK (first from right)

Stapleton is a student at the Bishop’s College Kingstown, and Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett adjourned the matter for the principal of the school to appear.

Before the court could hear any comment from the principal, defense attorney Kay Bacchus-Baptiste rose to ask that some ‘background’ for the case be considered.

Shortly before this she could be observed in fervent conversation with the duo at the dock. The attorney stated that she had heard that one of the bikes had belonged to one of the defendants, “and the police, as far as we are concerned, took it wrongfully.”

This was because, she said, the police had been taken to the person the bike was bought from, and the situation was explained to them, but the explanation was not accepted. For the other defendant, Bacchus-Baptiste submitted, “the other one, the same thing happened with a friend of his, the police took the bike because they say it wasn’t licensed.”

She said that she had noted this to show that it wasn’t ‘clear’ burglary. “Whether they were misguided or not…the point is that they think they had a claim to the bike,” she expressed.

She reiterated, “they took the wrong course, but just to show, to balance it, there was not just a wilful break in, for the sake of breaking in, that they figured the bikes belonged to them, the police should not have taken them.”

However, the magistrate noted that James had a conviction for breaking into the same station before.

Teenage police station burglars dealt different hands of fate
Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett

Principal Cecelia Ackers-King of the Bishop’s College Kingstown, then took the stand, and told the senior magistrate that, as it regards Stapleton, he had moved to her school from Georgetown Secondary in 2016. Stapleton is repeating third form, Akers-King said. She revealed, “We do not have a problem with Kevin at school, his respect for authority, his conduct, his decorum, all of those things are

good at school.” Akers-King stated that their only problem with him was that he was absent, and late frequently.

It became evident that there were more persons in the court who had information about Stapleton, and when prompted, two representatives from Liberty Lodge made their way to the stand.

Social worker attached to Liberty Lodge, Rhonda Charles, worked with the defendant for nine months. She informed that Stapleton was not rude, that he had had a lack of parental guidance, and mentioned “you could see many days he was like really sad.”

She opined that with the right guidance, he would “be able to move forward.”

Teenage police station burglars dealt different hands of fate
Attorney Kay
Bacchus-Baptiste

One Prescott-Benjamin, counselor attached to the Liberty Lodge, also added that Stapleton had a quiet demeanour, and gave no trouble.

“I was extremely surprised when I heard of this offence, because we never had an encounter with him at Liberty Lodge when it comes to theft, so it really caught me and the staff by surprise that he was actually involved,” she expressed.

She said that ‘Kevin,’ was not able to benefit from the ‘structured environment’ at Liberty Lodge while he was there as the nun who brought him there still kept a ‘hold’ on him. She said, Stapleton did not end up staying at the Centre, and went to live with his father in Edinboro. After this he still went back to Georgetown, which they said was the wrong move for him, as they had information that he had been involved in a gang. She attributed the recent trouble he was in to the fact that he was treated like an adult in Georgetown and could come and go from the home as he pleased.

However, when asked by the magistrate if the ‘structured environment’ was available now, she responded that the difficulty was that he would have to ‘mingle’ with other offenders, and the rehabilitation centre was not ‘functioning.’ She said his sister had expressed willingness to take him in.

After their contributions, Bacchus-Baptiste rose again noting, “the future of our youths really is a grave concern of mine.” She opined that the sending Stapleton to jail would be a ‘death knell’, to nodding from the witness box.

Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche also recommended him as a candidate for rehabilitation, saying that he did not seem to be ‘hardened.’ “I don’t think the system should be ‘manufacturing’ criminals,” Delplesche noted.

The senior magistrate asked Akers-King if there was a counselor at the Bishop’s College, and she responded that there was, and another woman rose from the backrow of the court to join the already full witness box.

Burnett told the counselor, “What I’m going to do is, I’m going to order one year of counselling for Kevin Stapleton. I expect to have a report from you, on him by April 30, 2019, and also the end of counselling period, the 31st of October, 2019.”

This was the only order he would make as it relates to Stapleton, he stated.

“We’re going to give you a chance, and see what good that you’re going to make of this chance, okay? I was very disappointed in you, but, it has happened already, and we’ll see what progress that we’re going to make between now and October,” he told the 16-year-old.

He responded, “Yes, sir.”

Stapleton eventually left the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court surrounded by those who had supported him. The principal of the school put her arm around him and assured him that everything would be alright, as they guided him.

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