After years of keeping on the straight and narrow, and 25 years of being in a steady job, one Bequia man says that a harassing “demon” motivated him to burglarize a hotel.
Elvis Leach, 43, had a record, but those convictions happened so long ago that they were no longer valid when he came before Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court last Friday.
The Union Vale, Bequia resident, kept a steady job for the last 25 years working with a company that operates a garbage truck, and he lives with his mother.
“So what was the motivation? You have been employed for 25 years. You are currently working for $1050 per month. You are living at home. What motivated you?,” the magistrate persisted, after the defendant claimed to have no explanation for his criminal act.
Leach, who appeared resigned, and had told the magistrate that he could say nothing if he (Burnett) wanted to send him to prison, admitted that he couldn’t sleep on the night of March 9, and that something was harassing him.
“Who or what was harassing you?,” Burnett asked him seriously.
“A demon” Leach stated. The magistrate asked him if this was before or after the burglary, and Leach responded that it was before.
“Is the demon humbugging you now?,” the defendant was asked, and he responded that it wasn’t.
Rebecca Bollard, a visiting 76-year-old woman was deprived of a knife-set, a wallet and a phone because of the mischief of the demon. She was staying at the Sunset Cottage at Lower Bay, Bequia at the time. The manager of this hotel left at around 10:30 pm on the night of March 9. She came back at around 11 am the following the day, and discovered that the hotel had been broken into. The deadbolts on the door and the glass window were damaged. The 76-year-old woman had left the items in the sitting room area of her apartment, and had locked everything. When she checked after the manager arrived, she realized that her cellphone, wallet and knife-set were missing.
Investigations led the police to Leach who admitted to the offence. A search of his person recovered the phone, and a search warrant was executed at his home, where the knife set was recovered. The wallet was not found.
Leach was charged with burglary, namely trespassing onto the Sunset Cottage property, and stealing EC$240 and US$625 worth of items. He was also charged with damage to property, namely two deadlocks and one glass window together valued at EC$800.
“The last thing that you want to happen to you when you are visiting a country is for someone to invade your space like that. That’s something that you don’t want,” the magistrate commented. He had listed the prevalence of burglaries as an aggravating feature in the matter.
One the other hand, most of the items were recovered, and Leach had entered a guilty plea, which served as mitigating features.
Burnett asked Leach how long he had been living in Bequia, and he responded that he had done so all his life.
After a lengthy pause, the magistrate commented, “I’m contemplating, because I have to follow the guidelines of the Court of Appeal…,” continuing, “because if I am to understand what they are saying to me, it seems as if I can’t even send him to prison.”
After stating that it seems as though the defendant has the ability to pay a fine, Burnett imposed a fine of $3000, to be paid by December 31, 2019, with a default of 12 months in prison in the event of a failure to pay.
On top of this, $800 compensation for the damage to the deadbolts and glass window, and $333.75 for the wallet must be paid by September 30, or there is a default of six and three months imprisonment respectively.