A 58-year-old man who pleaded guilty to sacrilege this year threw himself at the mercy of the Supreme Court today.
Roderick Willrow Beckles, said to have no fixed place of abode, admitted to entering the St Peter Parish Church sometime between March 27 and 28, 2015, and stealing a tabernacle worth $15,000 and a communion cup worth $1,100.
Beckles, who represented himself, pleaded for a pardon from the court.
“Ma’am, I am 58 years of age. . . . I throw myself at the mercy of the court, Your Ladyship, the representative of the Crown, and beg you to have leniency on me. I have been in Dodds prison for about 17 months. . . . Ma’am, I am begging you all to pardon me . . . for this thing that I have done to the church and I ask you all to give me a chance to go back to society . . . to turn a page in my life,” he said.
“I am asking you all if you can give me a CRD [conviction, reprimand and discharge], time served, or a suspended sentence,” Beckles pleaded.
However, Crown Counsel Oliver Thomas said he saw “no justification for a suspended sentence”.
“That would be making a mockery of the system to my mind,” he contended.
The prosecutor pointed out that Beckles had years to turn his life around, which he wasted, as he pointed to the man’s criminal career which began in 1983.
Beckles has 24 convictions, including five for sacrilege and eight counts of burglary.
“[It is] supreme dishonesty . . . stealing from a divine place of worship . . . a serious offence . . . and committed in the dead of night. [This] meets the custodial threshold. . . . We are not dealing with a first-time offender, we are dealing with a veteran,” Thomas argued.
He said that Beckles should get allowances for his early guilty plea and his time spent on remand. However, the prosecutor made it clear that it was necessary to get Beckles, who has a drug problem, structured rehabilitation.
“I don’t think that he does well on his own. He needs to be in a more structured programme and HMP Dodds [has such],” he said. “I think a starting point [of imprisonment] would be seven years, Madam Justice.”
However, Beckles replied: “Ma’am, I haven’t seen society for a long time. . . . My parents died while I was in prison and I am begging you to have mercy on me.”
Following that impassioned plea, Justice Weekes adjourned the case with no fixed date for sentencing.