By: Gavincia Clarke
(CHARLESTOWN, NEVIS)- On Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at the District ‘C’ Magistrate Court Her Honor, Magistrate Yasmine Clarke sentenced one male to prison for stealing $7000.00 value of groceries from an establishment.
On trial, testifying and stating his innocence was Tafari Tyson of Gingerland. He pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him. He was accused of stealing groceries and 60 gallons of gasoline.
The story unfolded when owner of Nevis Food Centre, Kurt Swanston took the stand and gave evidence. Mr. Swanston stated that on Monday, October 29, 2012 he locked his business place at about 10:00 p.m. Swanston said that he returned to his business place the following day only to find that it was broken into. He observed that the cash register tray that contained coins was missing and his shelves were practically empty. He further noticed that the intruder gained entry into the shop by way of a window.
The Prosecution called the second witness Judy Providence who is a sales clerk at the said supermarket. She stated that on Oct. 30, 2012 her boss called her and said the store was broken into. She said upon arrival she realized that all the groceries she packed on the shelves the day before were missing. Later, she was able to identify her handwriting on 2 bags of sugar shown to her by police officers.
Next to give evidence was Ethlyn Tyson, ex- wife of the accused on trial. She admitted that Mr. Tyson brought some groceries such as rice, corn beef, sugar, and Comfort fabric softener to her house. On Saturday, November 3, 2012 she stated that police executed a search warrant on her premises and retrieved those items.
Constable Dasent who is stationed at the Cotton Ground Police Station and Sergeant Percival of the Criminal Investigating Department, stationed at the Charlestown Police Station both gave evidence against the defendant.
Officer Dasent stated that he was on duty when a report was made of a building breaking in Jessups Village to a property belonging to Four Seasons. According to information received he said he went to Gingerland to the home of Tafari Tyson. At the time Tafari was driving a rental vehicle. When officers searched the vehicle there was a bag containing soap powder and Comfort fabric softener. Tyson was then taken to the property of his ex-wife. A search was conducted downstairs of the house and a barrel with a number of items was found. Officers asked Ms. Tyson who had access to the downstairs and she indicated that Mr. Tyson had access.
Tyson was questioned about the findings and he denied having any knowledge of the items. However, later he admitted knowing about the items. He said he was on his way home when he saw some youngsters breaking into Swanston place. When questioned about the identity of the fellows, Tyson said he could not mention the names otherwise they would kill him.
During the testimony of Officer Dasent, Tyson shook his head from left to right in the defense box as if he was indicating that the officer was lying.
However in Sgt. Percival’s evidence she said that Tyson gave a statement indicating that he was on his way home from the Spanish bar when he felt the urge defecate. He said he went next to a tank next to the supermarket and defecated behind the building in some bushes.
Sometime after he discovered a number of food items on the ground and he took them up and stated that he could use them to feed his children. When questioned about the gas he denied taking any of the gasoline.
In his own defense Tyson’s evidence was comparable to the statement that he gave to Sgt. Percival. Tyson saw the food as a ‘good fortune’. Tyson said he was guilty of taking the items from outside the supermarket but he denied breaking into the establishment.
Her Honor stated that Tyson argued vehemently on how Swanston and his sales clerk could identify the groceries since other businesses sell the same groceries. However, the identification came into place when the sales clerk at the Nevis Food Center was able to identify her handwriting on the 2 bags of sugars that were among the other items. Also there was not even one price tag on any of the groceries which in the opinion of Magistrate Clarke, indicated that the items must have been stolen. She also stated that no one in Nevis shop in bulk as was represented in the stolen items.
The Magistrate asked the court to apply common sense. She said, “You live in Morning Star and you are driving a car. You suddenly feel the urge you want to use the bathroom, you reach at Church Ground why stop when you can drive straight home that is not far away?’
She also quoted the law that stated that even one did not break into somebody’s place but soon after a person is found with the stolen items, the law presumes that it is that person who broke into the place.
Her Honor stated emphatically that she was of the view that Tyson stole those items and he was found guilty.
Tyson pleaded to the court why he should not be sent to prison. He admitted that he was not an outstanding person in society but he had been doing better. He said that he was working on establishing himself.
When it appeared that he was about to burst into tears, Her Honor stopped him and said, ‘Don’t cry, you’re not going to fool me this time. The last time you cried you bragged to your friends that you only had to cry and my heart softened up’.
Tyson at that point continued to say that he did not break into the building but he was guilty of taking up the items. He begged for leniency. He was however sentenced to 3 years imprisonment.
Tyson was shocked with the sentence. The only words he uttered were, ‘three years, three years, isn’t that the maximum?’