By FARRAH JOHNSON
A MAGISTRATE discharged a homeless man who was brought to court for violating the national curfew after he explained that he had only left the abandoned building he was staying in to get something to eat.
Edvardo Charlton, 36, appeared before Magistrate Carolyn Vogt-Evans after officers found him on Collins Avenue around 1am on May 26. He pleaded guilty, but said he was only outdoors because he was trying to go to a friend to get something to eat because he was hungry.
Prosecutor Kendrick Bauld told the court that morning, officers on mobile patrol in the Collins Avenue area observed the defendant walking south. When they beckoned him to stop and questioned him, he told them he was looking for something to eat.
Sgt Bauld said at the time, Charlton said he was aware of the curfew, but admitted that he did not call the COVID-19 hotline to get permission to go outdoors. As a result, he was arrested and taken to a nearby station, where he admitted to the offence in an interview with police. He was subsequently charged.
During the hearing, Magistrate Vogt-Evans said it was unfortunate that poor black people were getting fined because they were not following the rules. She also noted that those who continue to violate the emergency orders create a risk for other law abiding citizens when they break the law. Still, after explaining the importance of following the emergency orders, she discharged Charlton with a warning.
Lorenzo Whyms, 32, and Jermaine Smith, 23, were also charged after officers found them on Skyview Close around 10.20pm on May 10. The brothers were also charged for failing to wear a mask while outdoors. They both pleaded guilty to the charges and were discharged with a stern warning.
Prosecutor Bauld said that night, officers on mobile patrol observed two males walking through a track road through Skyview Close. Sgt Bauld said when officers approached and questioned the defendants, they told them they were going to their neighbour for cigarettes.
When given an opportunity to speak, Whyms told the magistrate that Smith and their other brother had gotten into an argument. He claimed that he was sleeping when he heard the two of them fighting, so he woke up and went outside on the porch with Smith. Whyms claimed that their older brother thought that he was “taking Smith’s side,” so in an effort to diffuse the situation, he told Smith they should go to their neighbour’s house, that was located “one house down” from theirs, for a cigarette.
In response, Magistrate Vogt-Evans told the defendants that going for cigarettes was not a good excuse for violating the lockdown. She insisted while they may think going next door for cigarettes is no big deal, by leaving the confines of their homes, they were breaking the law. As a result, she urged the brothers “to get their act together” and told them to stop arguing with their other brother. The men were subsequently discharged.
Several people also appeared before Deputy Chief Magistrate Andrew Forbes for curfew and lockdown infractions yesterday.
Officers found Marlin Brown, 42, on John Close around 10.17pm on May 24. He pleaded guilty to violating the curfew and was fined $400 or one month at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services. Brown told the magistrate his wife and kids were hungry and he was trying to look for his aunt. He said that after he could not find her, he headed back home and was stopped by officers. Brown claimed that they had got help from neighbours and local churches, but all the food they had ran out because his two sons ate a lot.
Meanwhile, Michael Smith, 22, was charged after officers found him on Gladstone Road around 9.20pm on May 18. He pleaded guilty and was fined $400 or one month at BDCS. When given an opportunity to speak, Smith told the magistrate that he was coming from one of his cousins who was having a get together. In response, Magistrate Forbes told Smith that he was a potential carrier of the virus even if he did not display any symptoms. He noted that public health officials have been emphasizing the importance of social distancing for weeks and said the more people violated the lockdown and curfew orders, the longer the orders would last.
Etienne François, 48, was charged after officers found him on Prince Charles Drive around 10.50pm on May 25. He pleaded guilty and was fined $400 or one month in prison. Prosecutor Kenny Thompson told the court at the time of his arrest, François told officers he was preaching and did not realise he had “walked as far as Prince Charles.”
Remington Marshall, 31, was charged after officers found him on Moonshine Drive around 10.35pm on May 20. He pleaded guilty, but was discharged after he told the magistrate that he was arrested in front of his home. During the hearing, Marshall explained that he had gone outside to move his car because his wife had parked it too close to their gate and it had gotten hit when the gate swung open.