While expressing concern over the recent two-year sentence handed down to Shamoii Dagou for looting a television set after Hurricane Irma, senior legislator and Third District Representative Julian Fraser has taken aim at High Court Judge Ann-Marie Smith.
Justice Smith is the judge who handed down the sentence on Dagou — a former government employee attached to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF).
Fraser, who is the third legislator to publicly address the issue in recent times, said: “I have seen on social media, and I have seen stories about this particular judge before.”
Fraser did not specify the nature of “stories” he has heard about the judge but immediately followed up his statement with an assertion that the BVI “is not a dumping ground that anybody could come and dump on” without impunity.
And while making it clear that he does not support looting and that he is merely “advocating for is justice”, Fraser then called on the Andrew Fahie-led administration to “put a halt to all these things that are in place in the territory”.
“We cannot continue to live like all is honkey dory and everybody is happy,” the senior legislator said.
Imprison one, imprison all
Fraser pointed to other looters who were not imprisoned and said offenders who commit the same type of offence should be penalised equally.
“I don’t believe he (Dagou) is a common criminal and I think many people in the community feel the same way. I think something has to be done if you are gonna incarcerate people for looting, incarcerate all. If you are not going to incarcerate any, then don’t incarcerate one. That young man who is in prison for this act, as heinous as it was, he needs justice,” Fraser said.
“With all the looting that took place … was that the only television that was taken? And only one person? I haven’t heard of anyone else being incarcerated; at least, I haven’t heard any outrage,” he added.
Fourth District Representative Mark Vanterpool and Sixth District Representative Alvera Maduro-Caines have both expressed concern over the matter as well.
Dagou, a resident of Belle Vue, was sentenced by Justice Ann-Marie Smith to a total 26 months at Her Majesty’s Prison and ordered to pay the value of the television by January 31, 2020. He will serve an additional six months in prison if he fails to pay.
In handing down her sentence, Justice Smith said the offence was aggravated by the fact that it happened immediately after the onslaught of the 2017 natural disasters.
The court had also pointed to the fact that the offender worked as a messenger for the RVIPF at the time of the offence.
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