From the Courts
December 10, 2021
Former security guard jailed for stealing handbag

A former security officer who stole a woman’s handbag and claimed that he did the act because he was not being paid, has been imprisoned for six months.

It was the second time in the space of one week that 50 year old Martin Nelson of Redemption Sharpes appeared in the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court(KMC). 

However, the offence for which he pled guilty last Friday occurred in October, and the offence he was sentenced for earlier in the week occurred in November. 

The circumstances were different for the November offence, and the court had thought it appropriate then that a suspended jail sentence be imposed. Therefore for his November crime Nelson escaped any immediate prison time.

In this case, when he stole Campden Park resident Trisha Bruce-Roberts’ handbag on October 5, he was not caught red-handed, and by the time the police located him, an expensive item and cash in the bag were gone. 

According to police information, at 7:45 a.m Bruce-Roberts was at work in the backroom with her employer. She left her black handbag in the front of the room. This was a $28 bag, containing a variety of articles including a Samsung Galaxy S9 cellular phone worth $400 Canadian, a phone case, a FLOW SIM card, medication, bankbooks and identification cards. The total value of the items is approximately $1269; there was also $200 in cash. 

At about 7:50a.m, Bruce-Roberts heard the manager calling her employer, and she followed to find out what the manager was calling about. When she got to the front of the room, she noticed that her bag was missing. 

She questioned the whereabouts of it but nobody knew, until the manager informed her that he had seen a man leaving with a black bag. He had recognised the individual as someone who used to work as a security officer at a fast foods outlet.

The man was nowhere to be seen when they checked, and a report was made to the police. 

An officer from the Special Patrol Unit recovered a black bag with Bruce-Roberts’ identification cards and documents on October 13. 

When the police met Nelson on November 30, he was arrested and charged. He gave the police a statement admitting to the offence. 

The phone and money were not recovered. Nelson had said to the police that “I am willing to pay back the lady for the phone and the money me find in she bag”, and also, “I was not working”.

Nelson named a security firm he used to work with, and said he worked also at Ottley Hall. He informed the court that he received training overseas to be a security guard.

 “No work your worship,” he responded when asked why he decided to resort to stealing. 
“I see. So because of no work you going tief?” he was asked. 

The defendant replied, “No, not really”. He said that for a period of months he hadn’t been paid. 

Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett asked him to explain the justification and connection between this and his theft. 

Nelson said he had to pay bills. 

“So when your employers don’t pay you and you have no money to pay bills, you go and steal from somebody else? What a time. Ah Mr Nelson,” Burnett commented.

Later, the judicial officer also asked the defendant if during his training, “you were taught the values of being honest and decent?”

Nelson didn’t seem to understand the question at first as he replied that this wasn’t part of his training, but then changed his answer to say that it was. 

In the end, the magistrate, having assessed all factors,decided on a sentence of six months incarceration.