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Crown seeks near two-decade prison sentence for burglar

by Barbados Today
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Jamar Leon Ashby

Come February a burglar who broke into a man’s home and stole over $25,000 worth of furniture will find out whether he will be sitting on prison furniture.

Jamar Leon Ashby’s sentence should start on the “heavier end of the scale” – 18 years – suggested prosecutor Kevin Forde before Justice Laurie-Ann Smith-Bovell in the No.4 Supreme Court on Thursday.

Justice Smith-Bovell has set February 11 for his sentencing.

Back in July, Ashby alias Winston Hall of Montrose, Christ Church, admitted to breaking into the home of Luther Mayers between September 23 and October 1, 2017, and stealing a living room set, four tables, a dining table set, a clock, an air conditioning unit, a bed set, a vacuum cleaner, a toaster oven and a printer.

The items had a total value of $25,950.

Crown Counsel Forde said while the maximum sentence for burglary was 20 years, the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors and as such the starting sentence should be considerable.

He said: “It is the Crown’s position that this is a serious matter and that a custodial sentence is justified and warranted in this case and that only such a sentence would have some deterring effect when it comes to these types of matters and is appropriate in the circumstances taking into consideration the need to protect society.

“Burglary is a serious offence which not only leaves the victim knowing that someone has invaded their privacy but has also stolen their property. Sometimes the items cannot be replaced because of the sentimental value placed on these items.”

Forde said that in determining the starting point he had considered the aggravating factors in that it was a serious offence, the fact that the convicted man broke into the complainant’s home and stole items belonging to him showed it was a deliberate and premeditated act, that a vehicle was used to move the property, the significant value of the items and the prevalence of the offence in society.

In a victim impact statement, Mayers said he was still traumatized and asked for the convicted man to be incarcerated.

Forde said the only mitigating factor was that some of the items were recovered.

“Considering the aggravating and mitigating factors in relation to this offence the Crown submits that the starting point be on the heavier end of the scale and submits a starting point of 18 years in the circumstances,” he said.

He also noted that the convicted man had 23 convictions, dating back to 2007, with 16 of them for similar offences.

Forde said Ashby had also been incarcerated at HMP Dodds in relation to several of those matters.

A pre-sentencing report had indicated Ashby was at a medium to high risk of reoffending and was battling a drug and alcohol addiction, the prosecutor said.

As a result, Forde said the 18 years should be adjusted upward by one year to 19 years.

But he acknowledged that Ashby pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and so merited a one-third discount of a prison sentence.

Forde said his time spent on remand should also be taken into consideration.

Ashby, who represented himself, asked for leniency but told the judge “the situation was not how it looked”.

He said his fingerprints were at the scene because he was assisting in loading the items onto the truck.

Ashby said: “Ma’am, I am asking for your leniency. The reason I am pleading guilty is through the fact that I had no one to sign my bail when I had bail so I plead guilty to get out of the situation.”

His comments prompted Justice Smith-Bovell to ask the convicted man if he was guilty of the offence.

Ashby responded: “I could only say I guilty for the table that I had in my possession, but I plead guilty to get out of the situation. I had bail and nobody ain’t signing bail for me and I just want to get it over with.”

However, Justice Smith-Bovell told him she could only accept the guilty plea if he was innocent.

“I guilty. I guilty,” Ashby promptly responded.

He then told the court he had a young daughter who he wished to spend time with and reiterated his call for leniency.

“All I am asking for is leniency so I can get back out to society with my child,” Ashby said.

When asked about his 23 previous convictions he replied: “There isn’t much I can say about that.”

Ashby said he had reflected on himself during his time on remand at HMP Dodds and wanted to get back to society.

He told Justice Smith-Bovell he did not know what would be considered a lenient sentence.

The convicted burglar also apologized to the complainant and asked for forgiveness.

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