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NDP used to talk about children hunger – teenage burglar

NDP used to talk  about children hunger – teenage burglar
Aswell John


The youth who broke into the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) headquarters claims he was hungry and expected to find food there because the opposition party “used to talk about children hunger.”

Aswell John, 18 years, was sentenced yesterday for two crimes involving the Richmond Hill headquarters of the nation’s main opposition party. Firstly, he was charged that he did, between November 9 and 10, damage two hasp and staples, valued $20, two padlocks, valued $20, and one Easel and whiteboard, worth $300, total value, $340, which was the property of the NDP.

Additionally, between these dates, he is said to have broken into the building, and stolen many items, including two Hairoun crates, a pack of exercise books, a pot, war’e bowls and plates, and a bag containing clothing, etc. The estimated price of the lost items amounts to $940.

On November 14, John was hauled before the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, and pleaded guilty to these crimes, as he was captured on a video recording leaving the headquarters with the Hairoun crates.

At the time the accused was charged, the general secretary of the NDP, Tyrone James had apparently been invited to give his view on the matter. Among the things that James noted, was that the buildng had been broken into four times before. John denied breaking into the building before.

In the end, James left the decision in the hands of the Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett.

There was much for the magistrate to consider in sentencing the 18-year-old secondary school dropout, who had discontinued his education because of the poverty he apparently lives in with his mother.

Why, was another question that Burnett asked the youngster, who had said that the two weeks he had spent in jail were ‘harsh’.

John said that he was hungry at that time.

The follow-up question to this was, “At the time you were hungry and you go into a political party’s headquarters to look for food? Uh? I don’t know…”

“So you expected to meet food in that building?” the magistrate pressed.

“Yes please,” John answered.

This begged another question, namely why he had expected food to be in that building, and this was what the magistrate asked him.

John responded that it was because NDP used to talk about child hunger.

“So because NDP used to talk about children hunger you expected to meet food in the building? I’m trying to understand…” Burnett stated incredulously.

Prosecutor Corlene Samuel was asked to weigh in on the matter, and she brought up the defendant’s youth as a factor.

There was a pause as the magistrate mulled the information over in his mind, and sighed.

“Once you burglarize somebody’s property you ought to have no sympathy from this court. I’ve said that over and over and over,” he noted.

Also, John had apparently received no visits while in jail.

After another pause, wherein he looked at the information before him, the magistrate commented, “You are unemployed. How are you going to repay the damage to the people’s headquarters?”

The decision that was arrived at saw a sentence of compensation in the sum of $340 being paid by January 15 of next year, in default of which a prison term of three months would be served by John. Lastly, a three year prison sentence for the burglary will hang over the defendant’s head for a year.

However, the youth had a bench warrant out for him on a separate matter, and was taken to prison. His next court date is December 18. [Changed at 10:03am on November 27 to reflect that Tyrone James did not say that the defendant was the person who broke into the building four times previously]