Even though 23-year-old James Jonah Josiah Sandiford admitted to robbing 10 women, snatching their bags and running off, he felt the three years in prison imposed on him by a Bridgetown Magistrate was too harsh.
“Sir, I am a young man, Sir, and that is three years of my life that you taking away. I asked you for mercy Sir…,” he told Magistrate Douglas Frederick in the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court today.
“But what about all those women whose bags you snatched . . . and beat some of them? You didn’t have mercy on them,” Frederick told the young man he described as “a clear and present danger to society”.
Sandiford, of Mayers Land, Lower Richmond, St. Michael, pleaded guilty to robbing the women between December 2014 and April 9 this year.
The facts revealed that Sandiford walked past most of his victims, snatched their bags, and ran off. Some of the offences were committed in the Westbury, St Michael area where Sandiford escaped by jumping over the cemetery wall.
In another instance, he kicked one of the women while she was on the ground to force her to release her bag. Another victim received a cuff in her face to make her let go of the bag.
The thief changed his modus operandi in one matter, though. On that occasion, the woman sent her five-year-old son to answer the door after hearing a knock. The boy returned and told his mother the person wanted her.
When she went, Sandiford asked for someone named Mohammed. She had the door opened slightly but the child came and opened the door further. Sandiford snatched at the bracelet she was wearing and they struggled. He beat her about the head and the back of her neck, and made off with the jewellery.
In sentencing the young man, Magistrate Frederick said he considered Sandiford’s early guilty plea as well as the fact that he had seemingly “targeted” the women and used violence against some of them.
The thief was given six months in relation to the woman whose home he visited, followed by four other six-month consecutive terms. He also has to serve two three-month consecutive sentences in relation to two of the robberies. Two more six-month sentences are to run concurrently.
Sandiford was not pleased.
“I got a very bad cocaine habit, Sir. Plus I on medication from Psychie (Psychiatric Hospital). I come clean cause I want help. I smoking this thing all the time, all the time and I want help. I thought you would send me some place like Verdun House or Psychiatric Hospital. I does still get cocaine and marijuana in prison, Sir,” he said.
Explaining to Sandiford that those were not options, Magistrate Frederick informed him that “the question is not if you are going to jail but for how long.”
“While you may need rehabilitation, the public needs to be protected from you. You see the number of charges that you have here that you pleaded guilty to? You represent a clear and present danger to this society,” the Magistrate responded.
“Try to understand me, Sir,” Sandiford pleaded. “A drug rehab programme could help me, Sir. If I was in my right mind, I wouldn’t do these things.”
The magistrate ordered that he undergo drug counselling at the prison.
Sandiford was slapped with 14 charges altogether for the string of offences but the others are indictable requiring trial in the High Court.
He has previous convictions for assault and dishonest acts.