Father bonded for threats to teachers at son’s school
Parents cannot be allowed to go into schools and threaten to harm teachers.
The Senior Magistrate made this clear last Friday, while imposing a bond on the parent of a primary school student.
Marc Stephens, the father of a student of the Kingstown Anglican Primary School went through a full trial at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court for the charge that he did use threatening language in a public place on January 7, 2020.
“From the evidence it seems as though the child had some behavioral issues that caused him to be in conflict with teachers at the school…and maybe that was going on for a while,” senior magistrate Rickie Burnett summarized last Friday, May 8.
According to prosecution evidence, after one of the child’s episodes, the father came to the school compound and used threatening words that he would shoot up and kill the teachers.
Two teachers – Fairon John, and one Ms Williams took the stand for the prosecution, which was led by prosecutor Corlene Samuel.
The magistrate recalled that since the incident, the teachers had been transferred to another school, apparently because of the incident.
The defendant also gave evidence in the matter, and had one witness on his side.
“At the end of the day I had to look at the matter and determine the facts in this case, and very importantly I had to decide whether or not these words were used by the defendant,” the magistrate commented.
“I believe they were used,” Burnett stated decisively.
The magistrate noted that Stephens had admitted during the trial that he was upset and perhaps frustrated with his son.
The defendant was playing the role of a father and trying to fill in for the child’s mother, who was not present.
“So I believe he was frustrated, but as frustrated as he was, a parent cannot go to a school and make threats to teachers to say you will kill and shoot them up,” Burnett determined.
“That can’t happen, and I will not allow it to happen,” he emphasized.
Teachers play a very, very important role the magistrate said, and “The duties that they perform on a daily basis, sometimes they are not adequately compensated for it…but they do it, as a labour of love sometimes.”
“And if I may speak for myself, I have a lot, a lot of respect for teachers…the teachers that taught me in my day,” he continued.
The defendant mumbled that he did not say the words on the charge.
However, the magistrate replied that they differ on that, that he saw the persons that came before him, listened to them carefully, and observed them, which informed his finding that the threats were issued.
The magistrate continued weighing the mitigating and aggravating features and was informed that Stephens had no previous convictions.
Burnett said he had been speaking to what was operating in the defendant’s mind at the time, because he had admitted that his son “has some issues, as much as you love him.”
The father said that the issue was only at school. When asked about his son’s behaviour since then, Stephens explained that an evaluation revealed that some of the problem stems from the absence of his mother.
The father revealed that the boy’s mother was in Barbados, and that they had decided to split up three years ago.
After informing the defendant that he may appeal his conviction if he wished, the magistrate moved on to sentencing.
“You appeared to show some remorse in the whole matter,” he remarked, citing this as a reason that he would impose a bond of $1000 for one year. Should the father breach the terms of this bond he will pay this sum immediately or face one month imprisonment.
The maximum for the offence is three months incarceration.
After hearing this, Stephens was concerned about whether or not he could travel.
He was told that it wouldn’t stop him travelling, but the magistrate explained to him that one of the consequences was that he now had a criminal record.
Stephens responded that he had been trying to get ‘papers’ to meet his children.
“Well those things happen in life. I am sorry to hear that but you will appreciate that I have a job that I have to do. It hurts sometimes but I have to do it…,” the magistrate told him.