By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A 40-year-old man sentenced to over a decade in prison yesterday for robbing two food stores at gunpoint earlier this year attributed his criminal actions to a “generational curse” caused by incest in his family.
Tyrone Minnis, upon receiving from Justice Bernard Turner a 12-year sentence for robbing a Super Value food store and Budget Meat Mart in Fox Hill, blamed the “sins” of his relatives for causing him to commit the separate acts in July and September.
Minnis said while such issues shouldn’t be ventilated in public, he strongly believes that their relationship caused a “curse” to befall him in accordance with God’s law.
Minnis’ statements came shortly before he received his sentence for robbing Super Value’s East Street and Robinson Road location with an AK-47 of $18,000 worth of cash on July 7, and then robbing Budget Meat Mart at gunpoint of an undisclosed amount of cash a little over two months later on September 21.
It also came just before Justice Turner revealed that Minnis has been engaged in criminal activity from as far back as 1997, when he was just 18 years old. It is only recently that he has graduated to the “big leagues” by committing the two indictable offences of armed robbery, Justice Turner said, and in quick succession as noted by the Crown.
Concerning the first incident, police said Minnis entered the store shortly after 8am, held up the employees and robbed the store of an undisclosed amount of cash before escaping. No injuries were reported during the incident.
However, Justice Turner said one of the witnesses described how Minnis “cranked” the high-powered weapon, placed it to his head and threatened to blow his head off if he didn’t open the safe.
“So it’s not even just a matter of taking from the till,” Justice Turner observed.
In the second incident, Minnis was one of two armed robbers who held up the Bernard Road store and its employees of cash shortly after 8pm, before escaping in a light-coloured Nissan Cube.
Security camera footage from the food store, which was circulated on social media after the incident, showed two gunmen entering the store around 8.30pm, with handguns drawn. The men wore long sleeved shirts, hats and sunglasses. They are seen heading towards the cash register before the video clip ends.
Before sentencing Minnis yesterday morning, Justice Turner gave the man an opportunity to say something to the court. That was when Minnis said he believes a generational curse is on him.
“Sometimes I believe that it’s a curse on me, or generational curse,” he said. “I don’t know. Because I from was a little boy, from primary school time I was getting into problems.”
Speaking of the incest he said occurred in his family, he added: “…And I know that that’s against God, that’s a sinful thing. So I don’t know if what they dealing with lies on me, because I see myself as getting in problems from primary school time.”
In response to Minnis’ assertions, Justice Turner said that from a Biblical perspective, whatever shortcomings Minnis may have has already been dealt with by the “dispensation of grace” from God’s son Jesus Christ. However, the judge noted that he was more concerned with the question of how to treat his criminal behaviour “that has fallen short of man’s laws”.
Prior to that remark, the judge had noted Minnis’ criminal history, which dates back to 1997 when he was charged in the Magistrate’s Court for stealing, assault, and throwing missiles as a teenager.
The next year, 1998, Minnis was charged with stealing, followed by unlawfully carrying a firearm in 1999. The following decade was a quiet one for Minnis, but by 2009 he was given a two-year sentence for possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. In 2013, Minnis was convicted of causing grievous harm, which netted him a five-year prison sentence.
In 2017, Minnis was charged with possession of dangerous drugs with intent to supply, and in 2019, he was twice charged with the same offence.
In September of this year, Minnis was convicted for stealing a vehicle. And in October, he was fined $5,000 and given two-and-a-half years in prison for being in possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. He faced an additional six months in default of the fine.
Crown prosecutor Algernon Allen Jr said the prosecution was seeking a sentence of between 12 to 15 years. He noted that although Minnis pleaded guilty to the offences at the earliest opportunity, he questioned whether Minnis was someone who can be rehabilitated. Pointing to the man’s long rap sheet, Mr Allen noted the existence of a certain “level of recidivism”.
Justice Turner acceded to the Crown’s request, and sentenced Minnis to 12 years on each conviction to run concurrently with any sentence he is currently serving, to take effect from December 10 of this year. However, Justice Turner said if Minnis behaves himself and complies with the prison’s rules, he may be eligible for a decrease in his sentence. Nonetheless, Justice Turner said to Minnis: “You’re 40 now. You’re not a young man. Quite frankly, Mr Minnis, you are too old to be robbing food stores with firearms.”