While she handed down a six-month sentence for the offence of escaping lawful custody, Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards decried the frequency at which the offence is being committed in the British Virgin Islands, adding that the judiciary will do its part in discouraging the act.
“A strong message must be sent to those in custody that they should not escape,” she said.
The magistrate made the declaration last Friday while she sentenced St Kitts native Olanzo Dore for the said offence. He is one of the latest in the Territory to have been charged with escaping lawful custody.
He was sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to the charge this month.
While she handed down the six-month prison sentence, Senior Magistrate Richards made it clear that the sentence would have doubled, had the matter gone to trial.
Dore, who said he absconded because he was being abused at Her Majesty’s Prison, was also able to escape a longer prison sentence because his attorney Valerie Stephens-Gordon furnished the court with two character reference letters.
Meanwhile, Senior Magistrate Richards ordered that the sentence for escaping custody should take effect after another six-month prison sentence, which Dore is already serving for assault occasioning actual bodily harm and criminal damage. He was sentenced earlier this month for those two charges.
How Dore escaped
The prosecution stated that, around 9:20am on April 29, Dore was transported from Her Majesty’s Prison on Tortola to the Magistrate’s Court on the island of Virgin Gorda.
After his court appearance, he was brought to the Virgin Gorda Police Station. A police officer, as well as a prison officer, later escorted the offender to the St Thomas Bay Jetty to board a ferry back to Tortola.
The two officers, along with Dore, were waiting in a parked vehicle for the ferry. The prosecution reported that, while they waited, the prison officer removed the handcuffs from Dore, although the police officer had advised against such a move.
Roughly five minutes later, Dore opened the vehicle door and said: “Boi Angie; I gone.” He fled the area and remained on the run for days.
Dore turned himself in to the Virgin Gorda Police on May 1. During an interview, he told the law enforcers that he was being beaten in prison, and he was afraid to return there.
Dore’s attorney, Stephens-Gordon, emphasized her client’s claim that he escaped because he was ‘scared for his life’.
The defence attorney added that Superintendent of Prisons David Foot had promised to put measures in place to prevent any further beating.
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