Jahmaine Irish
From the Courts
July 29, 2022
Orphan given second chance after his burglary charge

An 18-year-old who has been surviving without parents from a young age was given a second chance when he landed before the court on a burglary charge recently.

Although a prison sentence of up to 14 years can be given to those who commit burglary, first time offender Jahmaine Irish of Overland will instead be required to try to find work and repay the $125 he stole. However, the seriousness of his actions means that he is also being bonded for one year to keep the peace.

Additionally, Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett made arrangements for the young man, who wants to learn a trade, to meet with an educator in the district.

This situation was agreeable even to the victim, Daniah Barnum of Owia, as when she was asked whether she wanted the court to send Irish to prison, Barnum gave the defendant a long look but said that she did not. However, she did want compensation.

On April 25 this year, Barnum left her home in Owia at about 9 am. She secured her house then headed to South Rivers and did not return until 4:30 pm. Upon her return, her boyfriend told her that Irish was seen leaving their yard earlier in the day. She then checked and discovered that $125 was missing.

A report was made to the police.

Irish was picked up by the police during their investigations and he told them “Officer me nah tek all that money. Me only tek two five dollars, couple sheet, bamboo paper and couple Empire (cigarettes) and I went through the house door because the glass had a crack. I pushed my hand through window and unlocked door.”

On Tuesday, July 19, the court learned that the victim and defendant actually know one another, but not very well. They were at the same shelter in Stubbs after evacuating during the 2021 volcanic disaster.

When asked why he went into Barnum’s home, the 18-year-old said that he didn’t have money and wanted money to do something.

The defendant also told the court at a later point that he purchased boxers with the funds, at which time it was pointed out to him that he must have lied to the police because boxers would cost more than $10.

Irish also indicated during discussions that although he works from time to time, he wasn’t getting any work during the period he committed the offence.

Burnett asked the defendant what he would do if he were sent back home and could not find work. Irish reasoned that he would seek out persons for work.

The magistrate then asked him what he would do if they didn’t give him any work. Irish responded that he would “hustle”.

The judicial officer then posed the question as to why he didn’t do that at the time, to which the young man said he hadn’t thought about it.

On the topic of his personal circumstances, the 18-year-old revealed had dropped out of Secondary School in form two. He told the magistrate this was because he did not want to put pressure on his aged grandfather. His mother had left him when he was a child and he was living with his father. However, his father died when he was very young, and he has been living on his own.

The officer from the district who was in court at the time also confirmed this. SEARCHLIGHT also has it on good authority that the grandfather, who is 82 years old, is an amputee.

“These are the sad stories that you have in these courts every day,” Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett commented.

At another point, the magistrate further mused, “I don’t know what has happened to our country with these young boys you know? Because he is one of many…that appear in these courts almost every day now. He’s just 18 years and he has no parent in a long time. The mother seems to have – I use the word ‘abandoned’ for want of a better word – him for quite a while and he has to fend for himself. And unless there’s an intervention in his life he’s likely to come back in court.”

The defendant, when asked what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, revealed he wanted to sign up at the multi-purpose centre to learn a trade.

“How do we help this young man prosecutors? Because we have to help him. We can’t help everybody but if we don’t try to help him he is going to end up in the prisons. And that’s not the right place for him. But he’s lost,” Burnett said.

The prosecution suggested the Marion House (a non-governmental counselling centre). However, it was pointed out that the logistics of travelling from Overland may pose a difficulty.

It was also suggested that the Georgetown Technical Institute could be an option.

However, with this it was feared that unless someone takes an interest in his case, Irish would not go through the enrolment process.

After contemplation, the magistrate delivered his sentence that consisted of different layers.

Firstly, as the victim wanted compensation, the magistrate said “Mr Irish I’m going to order you to find a job. And you have strength, right? You could use a cutlass?.”

“Yes sir,” was the reply.

Burnett suggested that he attempt to get a job with the groups that clear the roads.

The “road gangs” are usually organised some time before school re-opens in September.

“When they start to do the road work and so on, go and ask them for a job, okay?” the magistrate advised.

He gave Irish until September 9 to pay the $125 compensation.

Further, he bonded him in the sum of $1500 for one year. The consequence for breaching this bond is payment forthwith or nine months in prison.

Differently to the sentence, the magistrate told the young man who does not own a cellphone to report to the Sandy Bay police station on July 25 at 8 am, to meet with the Principal of the Sandy Bay Secondary School. He said he would arrange the meeting.

“Because at 18 you can’t be drifting along like that,” he said.

“Don’t disappoint me,” Burnett told him.