From the Courts
February 25, 2022
Arts teacher suggests community service for gas bottle thief

The court has ordered a young man to complete three months of community service at the Craft Centre that he broke into. 

“…It’s always an uneasy feeling,” when someone invades your space, art teacher Nkuru Dyer told Senior Magistrate, Rickie Burnett at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court (KMC) on Tuesday, February 22. 

He was answering the question how he felt about the crime committed by Kyle ‘Cat’ Richards against him and the institution at which he works. 

The invasion is “…troubling. I really take that very seriously,” said Dyer, who also complimented the speediness and professionalism of the police, specifically the investigator, officer Peters. 

“But…on the other hand, I am a firm believer of reform,” the instructor explained, and asked whether the court can “structure a situation” where Richards could take part in some community service.

The offence to which the 25 year old unemployed man of Redemption Sharpes pleaded guilty is that he broke into the Craft Centre located in Frenches, and stole one gas bottle, as well as the head and hose that belonged to Dyer.

 The art and craft teacher with the Adult Education Department usually leaves this blue Shell gas bottle in the building that is secured by three doors with deadbolts and several glass windows. 

 He left it in the building over a weekend, securing everything on the evening of February 11 and returning on the morning of February 14. At 8:30a.m on that Monday, he discovered the door on the southern side of the building open, and found that the items had disappeared. A report was made to the police who carried out investigations in which ‘Cat’ was a person of interest.

On February 18, Richards was taken to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) where constable Peters cautioned him concerning the burglary. He admitted to the officer that he had the gas bottle at home and offered to take them to get it. 

The police were taken to his home and they recovered the missing items. 

There was no criminal record before the court for Richards. 

By way of background knowledge for sentencing, questions were asked about Richards’ life. It seems, by his own admission, that the young man attended secondary school and dropped out in form three in the year 2012/2013. 

While he lives at Redemption Sharpes, he “…does dey all over the place does running from trouble.”

By ‘trouble’ he seemed to mean gang members but denied being part of a gang. He said persons that were his friends are either dead or in jail. 

On the Saturday of the offence, he said he just pushed the door of the building, saw the gas bottle and took it. He wanted it for use at home. 

Later, when the talk turned to the offence of burglary carrying a maximum punishment of 14 years in prison, the defendant once again made the point that he had pushed the ; he didn’t break it down. 

“Yes, it’s not your door, not your property at all. You entered upon the property, and you went in. Not your property,” the magistrate told him. 

However, Burnett commented to prosecutor Corporal Corlene Samuel right off the bat that he was not going to send the defendant to prison.

The prosecution suggested a bond to keep him on the “straight and narrow”, noting that he has other matters before the court.

“Prosecutor I can place him on a bond. But I can’t help saying it and the day I cannot speak my mind is the day when I’m not here. I’m going to place him on a bond, but he is likely to be back into court. That’s my view. He is likely to be back in the court system,” the magistrate, who has seen many similar cases come through the doors, commented.

As many others do, Richards declared a promise that he would not come back. 

Burnett asked Dyer, “At the craft centre that you are employed, is there anything in place to accommodate somebody like him?…Because it would be good to send him back to the same craft centre building, the same institution to learn a skill.”

The teacher informed the court that they are currently doing work with the structure and cleaning up. Consequently, there are no programs running at the moment. 

“One of the things I can do, I can also put in an element for him to do some community service and send him back on the same building to clean it up,” Burnett said.

Dyer had been somewhat familiar with Richards before the incident in terms of seeing him around. The magistrate asked whether he would be comfortable having Richards present to clean up before making it a part of his order. 

The magistrate stipulated that Richards should carry out three months of community service at the craft centre. The number of days Richards spends would be determined by speaking with the head of the institution to which he had to report on Wednesday morning. If Richards fails to meet his obligations the alternative will be three months imprisonment. 

‘Cat’ has also been bonded in the sum of $3000. If he finds himself before the court within one year he will pay that sum or spend 12 months in prison. 

“I have fuh try and fight for survive,” commented the defendant. 

“You can fight to survive but don’t break the law. You must fight to survive, I am fighting to survive too. What I am doing, I am trying to save you from yourself…” Burnett responded. 

A restitution order was made to return the gas bottle, its head and hose to Dyer.