A 42-year-old man ran out of chances when he appeared in a Bridgetown court Wednesday charged with possession of counterfeit money – his fifth such charge in as many years.
John Nathaniel Bancroft, of Odessa McClean Drive, St Michael, is charged with having in his possession, without lawful authority or excuse, two forged US$50 bank notes, purporting them to be genuine notes issued by the Federal Reserve of New York, knowing them to be forged.
He was not required to plead to the indictable charge when he went before Magistrate Douglas Frederick in the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court Wednesday morning.
Prosecutor Station Sergeant Neville Watson objected to bail for the accused man on the grounds that he is currently on three sets of bail from Frederick’s court for similar offences which allegedly occurred in 2012, 2014, and January this year, and on another set of bail from the No. 2 District ‘A’ Criminal Court.
Watson also pointed out that Bancroft had 13 antecedents, ten of which were for dishonesty.
“He has a propensity to be dishonest and his track record for coming to court is not the best,” the prosecutors said, also pointing to the nature and seriousness of the offence.
“The alleged brazenness attached to the [offence], Sir, [is that] it is alleged [that] he was in court when he was caught passing the money,” the Crown’s representative revealed.
However, attorney-at-law Mohia Ma’at, in seeking to get his client out on bail for a fifth successive time, argued that anyone could find themselves in a similar situation.
“Any person in the court . . . stands liable to such a charge,” Ma’at stated.
In making his point, the lawyer said he had seen a warning posted on the Central Bank’s website as recently as January that residents should be on the lookout for counterfeit money.
“[So you see] how simple anyone could fall into such a situation,” Ma’at said.
It was at this point that Magistrate Frederick intervened and told the attorney that his client “keeps attracting these unfortunate circumstances”.
“Lightning striking about four times . . . in the same place?” the magistrate questioned.
Ma’at then noted that the first charge leveled against his client was in 2012 and more than five years later it was still at the preliminary inquiry stage and going nowhere fast.
“This charge is saying to people to go out there and check your money; . . . buy a counterfeit machine which costs about $350. He is still a fit and proper candidate for bail given the nature of the charge,” Ma’at argued.
However, the prosecutor insisted that Bancroft was the one who had frustrated the process in his case by, among other things, failing to show up for court on the given dates.
The magistrate then questioned Bancroft about who was the judicial officer that had given him three chances in the past.
“You, Sir,” Bancroft responded.
“I gave you three sets of bail and you are asking for bail again? If they don’t start the matter in due course, then I will give you bail,” the magistrate said.
“It will be unreasonable for me to give you bail [at this time],” Frederick added, as he remanded the accused man to HMP Dodds until April 12.