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November 14, 2014
Prisoner recaptured shortly after escaping police custody

Largo Heights resident Evista Baptiste says the only reason he attempted to escape police custody last Tuesday, was in order to get money to pay a $900 fine for possession of marijuana.

Baptiste was sentenced by Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias to one and a half years imprisonment, after he pleaded guilty {{more}}at the Serious Offences Court the following day to escaping lawful custody.

Baptiste was the subject of much discussion on SEARCHLIGHT’s Facebook page ( earlier this week, when one of our senior reporters captured exclusive video footage ( of Baptiste being recaptured by police officers.

According to the facts, on November 11, at approximately 10:45 a.m., Baptiste pleaded guilty to possession of 652 grams of cannabis. After being fined $900, to be paid forthwith, the young man was taken to the holding cell situated near to the entrance of the court.

While there, Baptiste asked to be allowed to use the washroom. He was taken there by police constable Kevin Abraham. On their return, Abraham, who is attached to the Rapid Response Unit (RRU), was escorting Baptiste to the police transport, when the prisoner took off running in the direction of Wilson Hill.

PC Abraham and another officer engaged in hot pursuit, during which Abraham fired a warning shot.

Baptiste ran through the area behind the Bishop’s College Kingstown and the Kingstown Technical Institute. After making his way across the playing field, he attempted to climb over the perimeter wall of the St George’s Cathedral, but was nabbed by the police officers.

When asked by one of the officers why he attempted to run, Baptiste said “I can’t make it in prison. Too much pressure.”

After he was recaptured, Baptiste was heard saying “shoot me, please,” as police officers marched him back to the precincts of the courthouse, following which, the police transport whisked him away to prison.

When he reappeared in court on Wednesday, Baptiste repeatedly begged the chief magistrate for forgiveness, stating that he has a young daughter he wants to take care of and he did not run away to escape.

“I ain’t run to escape. I run to get money to pay. I been going Barrouallie for the money. I been going catch a van,” Baptiste explained, as he turned to PC Abraham and apologized profusely for what he had done.

However, when the magistrate told him the maximum penalty for escaping lawful custody is three years imprisonment and that she was sentencing him to a year and a half, Baptiste did not appear troubled by the sentence and at one point told the magistrate thanks.

Baptiste faced three months imprisonment if the $900 was not paid.(KW)