‘Tombstone’ sentenced to 7 years
From the Courts
October 9, 2009
‘Tombstone’ sentenced to 7 years

Alister “Tombstone” Smith will not be able to deceive anyone in the very near future.

On Friday, October 2, at the High Court in Kingstown, Presiding Judge Gertel Thom sentenced the notorious conman to seven years at Her Majesty’s Prisons.{{more}}

Smith was found guilty on March 9, 2009, of obtaining by deception $4,800, the property of Ronnell Bobb of Tortola and Prospect on March 20, 2008. He was also charged with dishonestly obtaining US$1,000 from Bobb on April 3, 2008, at Kingstown. He answered to a total of seven charges of deception for sums of money totaling over $40,000.

The 30-year-old man, who had posed as an agent for Swedish engineers, who he said were coming to St. Vincent to carry out work on the Argyle International Airport, told Bobb that the foreigners wanted to rent her house, but she would need to do some renovations which included building a wall. She gave him money to carry out the work. Construction began on the wall, but never finished. By that time, Smith had already conned Bobb out of over $23,000 in relation to the project.

Since 2001, the local media have highlighted Smith’s criminal career, but yet he still managed to lure unsuspecting persons into trusting him.

Before being sentenced by the High Court, Smith was already serving a two-year custodial sentence on three counts of deception. He was convicted on March 2, 2009, at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court for tricking businessman Anthony Thomas, of Mustique, into believing that he was a vehicle importer and lured him into making payments totaling EC$1,925 and US$1,390 on a truck. In his elaborate and well thought out scheme, the conniving man had also conned Christol John into believing that she was being hired as his secretary.

Perhaps most outstanding in his extensive criminal career was the day he managed to unlawfully obtain three Dell Computers from Courts St Vincent Limited. In January 2007, Smith posed as someone by the name of Carl DeFreitas working at the Cotton House in Mustique. He telephoned Courts requesting the three computers valued at $10,497 on December 19, 2006. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

It didn’t stop there. Smith was sentenced to a further 12-month jail term that same year for dishonestly obtaining $3,000 from 65-year-old Jean Jack of Richland Park. Smith told the elderly woman that he was employed with the Government, in conjunction with the Cuban government, to build houses for the poor. The unsuspecting woman handed over the money to Smith after he told her that she would have to pay for the labour. No house was ever built, nor did she ever see her money again.

Smith’s brushes with the law began back in 2001, with an incident which many believe earned him his alias, “Tombstone”. That year, Smith, who worked then at the Everready Funeral Home, appeared before then Senior Magistrate Richard Williams and was sentenced to three months behind bars for deceiving Verina Hamlett, mother of late Government Senator Michael Hamlett, of $500 on September 21 that same year.

He told Hamlett he worked for the Kingstown Board and that he was responsible for the maintenance of graves. In order to deprive the woman of her money, Smith told Hamlett that he was sent by the Prime Minister to negotiate with her to up keep the late Senator’s grave.

In total awe of Smith’s prowess, Justice Thom said she was baffled as to the way he tricks people and is well known throughout St Vincent. “It seems like you are a professional…I am not sure how you are able to fool all these women, but you are good at it,” Thom said.

His lawyer Grant Connell told the court that imprisonment seems not to have any effect on him. “He’s a liability of the state and being around there…I would suggest Marion House or some form of counseling for him,” Connell said. Continuing his plea of mitigation, Connell said that Smith’s is a challenging case, but if his brain power is put to something positive, “Who knows what can be achieved.”

In her response, Thom said although Smith has been sent to prison on numerous occasions, he is still not rehabilitated. “People work hard for their money and you simply deprive them of it…Businessmen have to be honest,” Thom ended.