Just days after a senior member of the local judiciary lamented the same issue, Magistrate Christilyn Benjamin has now said she wants government to place establishing a facility for mental health offenders on the proverbial front burner.
“It is time that government gives these matters the priority and put proper measures in place to assist the court in [dealing with] these kinds of matters,” she said.
Her call came on Thursday while handing down her sentence on Wilbert Joseph Pickering of East End for burglarizing two business places on Tortola.
The court heard that Pickering was diagnosed with mild mental retardation.
“It’s a pity indeed that we do not have the facilities to actually deal with persons like Mr Pickering,” she added.
Pickering was given a three-month custodial sentence for each burglary and those sentences are to run consecutively (one after the other).
He has been on remand since May 1 and, as such, his sentence will begin from that day.
Magistrate Benjamin said she took several factors into consideration before handing down the custodial sentence on Pickering.
Some aggravating factors include the seriousness of the offence, the fact that these offences occurred at night time, the magistrate said.
On the other hand, she pointed to his personal circumstances, as well as his early guilty plea as the mitigating factors.
The magistrate then cautioned the offender to stay out of trouble.
Pickering was caught on surveillance cameras breaking into A.M Distributors in Parham Town and Marlo’s bar in Long Swamp.
Meanwhile, it was just last week Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards said it was ‘unfortunate’ that there isn’t a facility designed for mentally unstable offenders in the territory.
She said, as such, the court is forced to send such offenders to the adult penitentiary in Balsam Ghut.
She pointed out, however, such a facility may not be among the top priorities of the Smith led administration at this time.
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