Noel Scantlebury’s mother threw in the towel today, refusing to post bail for her 17-year-old son.
But veteran defence lawyer Arthur Holder made an impassioned plea on behalf of the teenager – who was not even his client – when the young man appeared destined to spend some time at HMP Dodds.
“Dodds ain’t no place for he . . . . You can’t give up on your child like that,” he petitioned the court and the boy’s mother.
Scantlebury, who is listed as having no fixed place of abode, denied having cannabis on June 16 or entering the home of Wendie Garraway as a trespasser on May 4 and stealing US$1,400 belonging to the homeowner.
The prosecutor had no objections to bail, but said the fact that the teen had no fixed place to live posed a problem.
Scantlebury’s mother, who was in the court, was called to the witness box and she made it abundantly clear that she had had enough. She said her son had been living with his grandmother but she did not know where he staying at the moment.
“He has no respect for authority. Noel does not want to get up and look for a job or anything. He does not want to listen to anybody,” the visibly frustrated mother explained.
Asked whether she wanted to sign bail on her son’s behalf, she emphatically replied: “No, I do not.”
It was at that point that Holder, who was in court for other cases involving his clients, stepped in.
After making some inquiries, he got a telephone number for Scantlebury’s grandmother and placed a call outside the court.
However, after a few minutes, he returned without any better news for the accused.
“They are at their wits’ end . . . and not prepared to sign bail for him,” he informed Magistrate Kristie Cuffy-Sargeant.
However, Holder, himself a father, made it clear that while he was not condemning anyone, parents needed to understand the plight of “a youth at risk”.
He said adolescence was a very “traumatic time” and some parents did not understand, especially when it came to male children.
Holder contended that young men go through a stage where they want to find their own identity, hence the reason for the block culture developing in Barbados.
“Young men will gravitate towards the block because they can identify with those persons on the block . . . and parents need to understand that and develop coping skills
. . . even though he might be going down the wrong road,” the lawyer said.
“Dodds ain’t no place for he at 17, Ma’am; no, because he is going to mix up . . . in prison and they are going to teach him. If he is devious now when he comes out he is going to be deviant . . . . You cannot give up on your son like that.”
Adding that “parenting was a skill” and went beyond just the biological connection, Holder continued: “It calls for relationship building . . . . If you don’t have it early you can’t develop it late.”
He warned that Scantlebury would be “recruited in a hurry” because he had nowhere to go and “feels like his mother does not want him”.
“Yes, she would have tried before, but you can’t give up on your children like that. Then he will become a hardened criminal.”
Following that passionate address, Scantlebury revealed that while he did not “smoke dope” he did use cigarettes and marijuana.
The magistrate then decided to remand the teen to the Psychiatric Hospital for drug and anger management assessment and any other assessment doctors deemed necessary to get him the necessary help.
He will spend three weeks there and return to court on July 14.