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Magistrate Urges Public To Be More Careful

By FARRAH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

fjohnson@tribunemedia.net

DEPUTY Chief Magistrate Andrew Forbes yesterday urged the public to “exercise better judgment” to avoid being brought before the courts for violating the emergency orders.

His comments came after he warned and discharged several people who appeared before him for curfew infractions. Many of those charged claimed they left their homes in search of food and water.

Yesterday, Magistrate Forbes said while he understood people were “anxious to continue their day-to-day routines”, they needed to exercise better judgment by analysing the facts and making decisions based on them rather than impulse or emotion.

He noted he sees flags flying and people professing their sovereignty to the country every Independence Day, but said it appeared as if some people were not willing to abide by the regulations put in place to deter the spread of COVID-19 for the greater good of the nation.

Leroy Rigby, 23, was charged after officers found him on Boyd Road around 10.30am on August 18. He pleaded guilty to violating the curfew, but said he only left his home to sell his phone so he could make money to pay his rent. Rigby said he had moved to New Providence from Grand Bahama after Hurricane Dorian and was trying to support himself.

After explaining his situation to the magistrate, he was discharged with a warning.

Meanwhile, Shelton Tinker, 37, was charged after officers found him on Fritz Lane around 10.45pm on July 20. He also admitted to breaching the curfew and was discharged after he said he was heading home after dropping his daughter to her house.

Haywood Thompson, 50, was charged after police arrested him on West Street around 10.45pm on July 20. Yesterday, he claimed he left his home to get food and water from a friend around a corner because he had no water or electricity at his home. However, the prosecution said on the night of his arrest, Thompson told officers he was looking for rum. As a result, his lawyer argued Thompson was trying to cope with stress brought on by the pandemic and left his home on the night in question for food and water in addition to rum. Thompson was also discharged with a warning.

Osbourne Thompson, 36, was charged after officers found him on Wallace Road around 9.25am on August 8. He pleaded guilty, but had his case dismissed after he explained he had left home to get money from his sister to purchase some groceries.

Ainsley Harris, 37, was arraigned after officers found him on East Street around 2.45am on July 21. He was warned and discharged after he told the magistrate he had fallen asleep at his car shop and had decided to walk to his home, which was two blocks away, to get some food.

Officers found Tomasso Riley, 22, in the Cedar Way area around 8.50pm on July 30. The prosecution said he was not wearing a face mask at the time of his arrest.

The court heard officers on patrol observed a group of males playing basketball at a park. Upon seeing the officers, most of the men dispersed. However, the prosecution said Riley just sat there. When he was approached and questioned, he told police he came outside to catch some fresh air. Yesterday, Riley also told the magistrate he had locked himself outside and had forgotten his face mask at home. As a result, he was discharged for violating the curfew, but fined $200 for going outdoors without wearing a mask.

Cadwell Taylor, 37, was fined $600 after police found him walking on Toote Shop Corner without a face mask on July 20. The prosecution said Taylor was armed with a cutlass he had hidden in one of his pants legs when officers found him around 10.55pm that night.

Yesterday Taylor pleaded guilty to all of the charges brought against him. The court heard officers were on mobile patrol when they observed Taylor walking outside without a face mask.

The prosecution said when officers searched Taylor, they then found a black handle cutlass attached to his left leg. He was subsequently arrested and taken to a nearby station where he admitted to the offences.

When given an opportunity to speak during the hearing, Taylor told the magistrate he was outside because he had gotten “put out” of the house by a friend after they had an argument. As for the reasoning behind him having a cutlass, Taylor claimed he did yard work and was on the street because he was not aware of the time.

In response, Deputy Chief Magistrate Forbes noted for the past six months, he had several people who had appeared before him who offered “interesting details” to justify breaking the curfew, despite the fact that they have been told their behaviour could contribute to greater problems. He added it appeared as if some Bahamians have decided to ignore the possible consequences their actions could produce.

As a result, he fined Taylor $300 for violating the curfew, $200 for failing to wear a mask that covered his mouth and nose while outdoors and another $100 for unlawfully carrying arms.

Magistrate Forbes also warned the defendant if he failed to pay the fines, he would spend one month at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services.

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