A grieving mother sat helplessly in court today as she watched two sons remanded to Dodds mere weeks after losing another by the gun.
“My heart goes out to you ma’am I can’t imagine how you must be feeling. It’s hard enough to offer you condolences . . . but this situation I don’t know how you are making it but I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers,” Chief Magistrate Christopher Birch told the mother moments after reading an indictable charge to her 17-year-old son.
The teen, Amir Oladele Blackman, of River Land, St Philip was not required to plead to the charge that he did carry a firearm between May 31 and June 5 without a valid licence.
Moments after remanding him until July 10, the prosecutor, Station Sergeant Peter Barrow, told another officer to bring Ade Omotunde Blackman, a request that took the Chief Magistrate by surprised.
“This is heartbreaking,” Birch stated before reading out the charge to the 22-year-old also of River Land, St Philip.
He is accused of entering the home of Seko Hunte on February 11 and stealing a cellular phone, an earphone, two watches, a play station console and controller, five bottles of alcoholic drinks, two pairs of slippers, a pair of shoes, three bags and a power bank totaling $6,860 belonging to Hunte as well as a cellular phone belonging to another person residing there. It is further alleged that he had a firearm at the time of the alleged offence. He was not required to plead.
Prosecutor Barrow objected to bail based on the nature and seriousness of the offence, the antecedents of the accused and the strength of the evidence against him. He further stated that the prosecution feared that the accused would “very well re-offend” if granted bail.
“We need to protect society as it relates to those types of offences,” the Station Sergeant added.
Queen’s Counsel Andrew Pilgrim, who was holding for Angella Mitchell-Gittens in both cases, argued that the seriousness of the charge alone did not suffice in denying the accused his pretrial freedom. He further stated that the strength of the evidence could only be ventilated at trial. Pilgrim also pointed to the length of time that it would take before the file is produced to the court.
“In light of situation, this court appreciates fully the taxing nature that these charges . . . and the other one could have on the mother, it would be useful to have this young man on bail pending [trial]. . . . As we are well aware the Supreme Court is now where the backlog lies . . . It is against that background and not withstanding that he has a few antecedents none of which are serious…we ask that you grant bail as you see fit bearing in mind he could be perhaps able to provide some comfort to his mom under the circumstances,” Pilgrim submitted.
The Chief Magistrate denied the application.
“We are a society under the thrall of gun violence. We cannot afford to take risks and chances. And I think notwithstanding your mother’s pain, it may be best that I hold you for a spell to ensure that she does not lose you too,” Birch stated pointing out that Blackman’s 24-year-old brother was before his District ‘C’ Magistrates’ Court just three weeks before his death as a complainant.
“So if I hold you it is for your own protection at this stage and to make sure that your mother does not lose you too,” the Chief Magistrate said as he remanded the elder Blackman to Dodds as well.