Magistrate Worried By Lack Of Covid Compliance

By Denise Maycock

Tribune Freeport Reporter


A Grand Bahama Magistrate yesterday expressed serious concern over residents failing to comply with COVID-19 rules, especially since GB now leads with the highest number of infections in The Bahamas.

“I am worried for us,” Magistrate Rengin Johnson said during the arraignments of three men in Freeport Magistrates Court. The men were among the arrests of some 20 people over the weekend for breach of the Emergency Order Act.

“It is very sad that we are number one in our country and... it is those us who live here who are citizens that are not complying with the country’s laws, and we are suffering where we are going into curfews…” she said.

“The numbers are increasing…we are at jeopardy. We…now passed Nassau which has a population of 250,000 and we have a population of 40,000 and we are the highest.”

Three Eight Mile Rock men pleaded guilty to violating the Emergency Order Act during the lockdown on Grand Bahama.

Andrew Harvey, of Seagrape pleaded guilty to three counts, violating curfew, not wearing a mask and resisting arrest by police officers.

Harvey, an employee of the Grand Bahama Shipyard, admitted that he was on the streets with no purpose and not wearing a mask. He told the judge he had no water and left his home to get some. He said he was not wearing a mask at the time because he was smoking a cigarette.

Before passing sentence, Prosecutor Calsey Arthur indicated Harvey was a good candidate for conditional discharge because he had no antecedents, and took full responsibility by pleading guilty to the offences.

Magistrate Johnson granted a conditional discharge on all counts. For violating curfew and being on the street, Harvey was ordered to be of good behaviour for six months and to report to the Eight Mile Rock Police Station every Sunday. If he fails to comply, he must pay a fine of $250 or serve 21 days in custody at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services.

For failing to wear a mask, the judge granted conditional discharge for three months and ordered that he report to the police station every Sunday. Upon default, he is ordered to pay a $100 fine or 21 days in prison.

And for resisting arrest, Harvey was ordered to pay $250 or 21 days in prison. The matters were adjourned for review on January 26, 2021, at the Eight Mile Rock Magistrate’s Court.

Jeffrey Saunders, 58, of Martin Town, Eight Mile Rock, was also charged with violating curfew and not wearing a mask.

According to the particulars, on Sunday, July 26, at about 2.55am officers on patrol observed the defendant in the Martin Town area during the lockdown and approached him. He could not provide a satisfactory reason to officers and was also not wearing a mask.

Saunders, a mechanic, told the judge that he was at his girlfriend, but left after the two got into an argument.

“I had my mask in my pocket but I was upset at the time and forgot to put it on,” he explained.

Magistrate Johnson also granted the defendant a conditional discharge, ordering him to be of good behaviour for six months and to report to the EMR Police Station every Wednesday, commencing after the lockdown.

If Saunders fails to comply, he will have to pay a fine of $250 and serve 21 days in prison for violating curfew, and $100 for not wearing a mask.

The matters were adjourned to January 26, 2021, for review at the EMR Magistrate’s Court.

Freeport residents Stephon Rolle, and Francis Barr, 58, were both charged separately with violating curfew.

Rolle was arrested around 9.50am on Saturday, July 25, at Sergeant Major Road. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was granted a conditional discharge and ordered to be of good behaviour for six months and to report to Police Station once per month. If found in breach of the order, he must pay a fine of $300 or 21 days in prison. The matter was set for review on January 26, 2021.

Barr, who was arrested on Sunday, July 26, in the Freeport area, also pleaded guilty. He was convicted and fined $300 or 21 days in prison.

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