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Magistrate's Absence Delays Sentencing Of Child Rapist

By LAMECH JOHNSON ljohnson@tribunemedia.net THE punishment of a convicted child rapist who pleaded guilty to a robbery charge last November in Magistrate's Court was postponed for a week. Yesterday morning's adjournment in the sentencing of 38-year-old Andrew Bridgewater, was because Court 6 Magistrate Carolyn Vogt-Evans was dealing with cases in the family islands. Sitting in for Magistrate Vogt-Evans was Magistrate Jeanine Weech-Gomez who told prosecutors Vernal Collie and Kevin Farrington that she would have preferred the presiding Magistrate, who dealt with the case, to continue. The accused was supposed to have appeared before Magistrate Vogt-Evans for sentencing after the Supreme Court sent the matter back to the magistrate's court. He had been arraigned before Magistrate Vogt-Evans on November 22, when he pleaded guilty to robbing a 52-year-old woman of a handbag containing $100 worth of personal items. The magistrate, after listening and watching the unremorseful attitude and conduct of the accused, told Bridgewater that she would refer the matter to the Supreme Court for sentencing. She said because of his attitude and his previous convictions, he deserved more time in prison than she was allowed to give. However, when the matter was being heard before Senior Justice Jon Isaacs on Monday of this week, Magistrate Isaacs once more sent the case back to the magistrate's court, this time for a technical error to be corrected. Because the Court Six magistrate was not the one who had originally convicted Bridgewater, but only accepted his guilty plea, Senior Justice Isaacs said that as regards the law, he could do nothing. According to the Criminal Procedure Code, a Magistrate referring a matter to the Supreme Court for sentencing must have all preconditions met, which includes conviction of the accused. Bridgewater, who was not in court as he is on remand, will return to the Nassau Street Court Complex on Thursday, January 26, at 10am.

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