Five Years Hard Labour

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Steve Wooler
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Five Years Hard Labour

Post by Steve Wooler » Mon Oct 02, 2006 9:48 am

At around 4:30am on Saturday 23rd September, a 30-year-old English tourist, Mathew Bird, was threatened with violence and robbed. He had just left ‘The Shade’ nightclub and was walking back, alone, to a Bon Accord rental villa. Bird was robbed of TT$70 (£6 / US$12), a silver watch and a packet of cigarettes.

Bird was threatened with a knife. A struggle ensued. Fortunately a police car came along and the culprit, a 24-year-old local Bon Accord ex-soldier, was apprehended. The stolen items were recovered.

I confess that on hearing these details, I became somewhat angry. The Shade is a known magnet for every prostitute, gigolo, drug dealer, druggie and other ne’er-do-well on the island. No crime is excusable, but frankly the reputation of The Shade is well established and more-than-enough warnings are given on this site and elsewhere. Only a fool would go near The Shade at 4:30am and walk alone through the immediate vicinity. I became angry because Tobago’s reputation could be further tarnished by an incident that should not have happened and could so easily have been avoided. The sort of incident that happens every night of the week in most British towns and cities and which many people now take for granted.

The good news was that the police were keeping a watchful eye on The Shade. The real twist in the story came later, however...

The perpetrator of this crime, one Arnim Wright, appeared before a local magistrate three days later, on Tuesday morning. He was sentenced to five years with hard labour.

During my last visit to Tobago, I had been assured that the government was intent on cracking down on criminals and would give particular emphasis to crime against tourist. Special arrangements were being made to deal with any such incidents more rapidly. Naturally it takes some time for these things to take effect.

Five years hard labour for stealing £6, a cheap watch and a packet of cigarettes may seem excessive to our more liberal readers. I wish it were otherwise, but it isn’t, so my attitude is if that is what it takes, then so be it. Frankly, I’m all for bringing back the stocks – both here in Britain and in Tobago. Maybe I’m just a dinosaur.

The severity of the punishment did not totally surprise me – I have regularly reported how severely criminals are dealt with when caught. What astonished and delighted me was the speed with which the matter was dealt with. Nothing happens quickly on Tobago! Maybe we're going to have to re-think that statement?

This incident is not, in itself, going to make any major impression on the criminals. What it does clearly indicate, however, is that the government and judiciary are taking matters VERY seriously and that the long-promised “action” has hopefully started. It was a small enough incident in itself, but it was the best piece of news I’ve had in a long time. Knowing Tobago as I do, I believe it signifies a fundamental change in attitudes and a genuine intent to get off backsides.
Steve Wooler
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Neil C

5 years Hard Labour

Post by Neil C » Mon Oct 02, 2006 10:37 am

Steve
I admire your courage in reporting the above incident and concur wholeheartedly with your comments. I am of the opinion the signal being sent out by the Government and Judiciary is fundamental to Tobago's future economy which is so heavily reliant on tourism and I congratulate them on so swiftly carrying out their promise to take severe action against crimes to Tourists. This case is a warning which I hope will now be seen as a strong deterrent and will more than nip in the bud this form of opportunistic crime.
Regards
Neil C

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Post by Brian Taylor » Mon Oct 02, 2006 12:53 pm

hope they keep up the good and FAST work on that matter.
can you imagine how we like to read reports like that :wink:
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Post by Ronald » Mon Oct 02, 2006 5:03 pm

Mathew was lucky that a Police car did pass at that time, but THA and the Police are for sure more alert now. As I was attacked in august, I´d feel "happy" when I´d read about it in the Internet paper.

I´m agree with Steve, the law must be hard and fast when something like this happen. I don´t think the real Tobagonians feel sorry for the guy who choose to attacke and rob Mathew.

But the main problem remain, the Police is forced to work with equipments OK for the 80´s. At Crown Point Station they all did write by hand, no type writer and for sure no computer and I didn´t see a police radio eighter.

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Post by Steve Pitts » Tue Oct 03, 2006 6:59 am

Hi Ronald

''But the main problem remain, the Police is forced to work with equipments OK for the 80´s. At Crown Point Station they all did write by hand, no type writer and for sure no computer and I didn´t see a police radio eighter.''

That is a very valid point, which is endorsed by a retired senior policeman.
See http://www.thetobagonews.com/index.pl/a ... id=8652966 which is in the same newspaper.

Whilst the upgraded police presence and fast-tracking of crimes against tourists is welcomed (along with draconian sentencing), the lack of basic communications and forensic equipment is holding back progress in detecting and solving domestic crime and crimes against visitors.

No easy answers, I guess, other than targeted funding, but importing police expertise from overseas is more high-profile than buying extra computers and finger print kits. Maybe the news acts as a deterrant - who knows. But what happens when the bobbies go home? Will Tobago be any safer, when the police do not have the long-term resourcing for vehicles and other vital equipment?

Whilst this episode undoubtedly sends a message to petty criminals, it should also send a message to visitors, regarding acting responsibly when abroad.
A casual meeting with a stranger, in a known area of 'ill repute' can often lead to crime. If you hang out in areas like this - you'll get burned sooner, rather than later.

Thankfully, in this instance the police were on hand, but this would not always be the case and anyone acting like this guy did, would be foolish to think that anywhere in the world is crime free at 4:30am and might not be so fortunate next time.

Cheers
Steve
Take only photos - leave only footprints. I like that concept.

Anna M.

Post by Anna M. » Tue Oct 03, 2006 9:46 am

Hi Roland,
good to read from you. Everything ok with your eyes.

Have a nice day

Anna

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Post by Ronald » Tue Oct 03, 2006 9:25 pm

Hi
Yes, my eyes is OK now, but it did take nearly 4,5 weeks. I was really lucky that my glasses did cut a little bit into my face instead of the eyes.

Steve, some days ago I´d read a letter on the Internet Express, from a former Police Officer. He was talking about these officers from UK who was there some years ago, they was supposed to upgrade T&T Police by teaching higher officers how they work/act, the writer was one of them.

Even if the training/information was good and needed for T&T Police Force, not much did change because the lack of modern equipment, modern training and an over all computer knowledge.

If I was an Police Officer in T&T, I would feel frustrated after such course, knowing how to do, what to do, but not able to do it because of the lack of needed equipment!

Ronald

Gill M

Post by Gill M » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:02 pm

Hi Ronald

I'm so glad to hear that your eye is OK now - a nasty experience for you.

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New news about the Shade

Post by Ronald » Sat Apr 28, 2007 6:29 pm

For some years, one major problem in the Crown Point area has been the Shade in Bon Accord, the crime connected to "their visitors" and around that area. I for sure have personal expirence of that!

Today I read in the T&T Internet Express..

"Tobago´s leading nightclub, Shade, yesterday had its licence revoked by Senior Magistrate Annette McKenzie. Sitting at the Scarborough Magistrate´s Court, McKenzie pulled the occasional licence granted on April 25 to the Bon Accord nightclub, for parties and fetes coinsiding with this weekend´s Plymoth Jazz festival.

She made the decision after hearing arguments from Dawn Palackdharry Singh and attorneys from Martin George & Company, who were representing residents living near the night club.
The residents had objected to the granting og a liquor licence to Shade owner David Milne, who was represented by attorney Christo Gift.

Milne´s application for the occasional licence had indicated that part of the proceedes from Shade´s activities were for teh Happy Haven School for hadicapped children. However, the attorneys for the objectors provided evidence that the Happy Haven School had no knowledge of any such event, nor was it recipient of any proceeds from teh Shade nightclub".

Peoples living nearby has for long time been forced to accept that crime and noise connected to the Shade. Now it looks like the law start doing sometimes.

I know that the place seems to be very popular by young peoples, the the Shade for sure give both the area and Tobago a lot of problems. I also like to dance and lime, but not at places run the that place, and I often wonder when seeing all young ones there, are they all really allowed to buy alcohol?

I´ll will be very interested to see what happend there this summer, I´m going down in mid july for 6 weeks.

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