Two days after the news of the closure of the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness’ shelter due to discovery of a COVID-19 case, one of its clients appeared in court on a stealing charge.
Today Shawn Anthony Butcher, 35, told the court that he had been at the shelter since February last year. However, he said he left last week Wednesday (February 3) as he was still using drugs and felt “restless”. He is awaiting the results of his PCR test.
One of the places Butcher visited since leaving the centre was a Savings Plus supermarket. On February 11 Butcher went into the store and ended up being charged with stealing four packs of biscuits.
Prosecutor Victoria Taitt told the court that around 9:40 a.m., Butcher was kept under observation by security while in the supermarket. On entering the store, he made his way to the area which displayed the oreo biscuits. He then went to the back of the store where he was seen fidgeting with his pocket. The security personnel approached him but Butcher managed to escape. The camera footage, in the store, showed Butcher putting the items in his pocket before leaving.
Butcher returned to the store around 2:45 p.m. the same day and was eventually detained by security. After police were informed, Butcher was interviewed and admitted stealing and eating the biscuits. He also told officers that he had stolen items previously and returned for more.
Addressing Chief Magistrate Ian Weekes, Butcher said he last appeared in court in 2018 for possession of cannabis. He told the court that he was sent to Verdun House in respect of that charge.
During his nine-month stay at the rehabilitation centre, he said he left “prematurely”- a month before.
When asked why he left, Butcher admitted that he was still using drugs.
“Why are you homeless?” Weekes questioned.
“Because of my problem with stealing Sir…my mum doesn’t want me home Sir,” he responded, adding that he and his mother were experiencing problems at home.
Butcher also said he had a cocaine problem and sought help from the Psychiatric Hospital.
“I sought to go to Psychiatric Hospital for help Sir and they told me that the situation has changed there since COVID was introduced and they don’t allow any walk-ins nor they don’t admit you for the detox programme anymore,” he explained as the magistrate commended how articulate he was. The court heard that Butcher had attended one of the island’s top schools and had eight CXC’s and two A’ levels.
Butcher also revealed that he had been a part of the programme headed by Kemar Saffrey since last year.
“I had left the shelter last week Wednesday because as I said I was still using drugs and felt restless being in the shelter because you couldn’t come outside,” he told the court.
Butcher said he was tested on Monday along with other clients and staff of the shelter but he was not sure of the result. It was reported that a few clients had left the shelter after the testing.
The magistrate told the No. 1 District “A” Magistrates’ Court that he couldn’t have Butcher “roaming around” and remanded him until March 23 pending the court’s decision as well as his test results. The prison has quarantine facilities in place.