By FARRAH JOHNSON
THREE women who claimed they violated the weekend lockdown on Saturday afternoon to buy chicken wings were fined $250 yesterday.
They were among several people brought to Magistrate’s Court for curfew and lockdown violation charges. Many of those charged claimed they were outside their homes in search of food from nearby shops or relatives.
Avianna Dames, 27, Patricia Federic, 23, and Ashatian Smith, 27, appeared before Magistrate Kara Turnquest-Deveaux after they were found in the area of Third Street around 4.39pm on Saturday.
They pleaded guilty to the charge and were fined $250 each or three months at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDCS).
According to the facts read by prosecutor Kenny Thompson, officers on mobile patrol observed three females walking north on Third Street, Coconut Grove. When questioned, the women told police they were heading down the road for chicken wings. They were then arrested and interviewed the next day where they maintained their defence. As a result, all three females were cautioned and charged.
Jeffrey Strachan, 27, was also charged after police found him near Dumping Ground Corner around 8.45pm on Saturday. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined $250 or three months at the BDCS.
Prosecutor Thompson told the court that on Sunday night, officers on mobile patrol arrested the defendant for breaking the curfew. When Strachan was interviewed the next day, he admitted to the offence and said that he only violated the lockdown because he was walking from a friend’s house.
When given an opportunity to speak, Strachan told the judge he was under the impression that the 9pm-5am curfew was still being enforced. He also said he had only come out of the house around 8pm that night to check on his pregnant girlfriend.
In response, Magistrate Turnquest-Deveaux told the defendant it appeared as if people were trying to test the system, but the purpose of the lockdown was to deter the spread of the coronavirus.
Nathaniel Shepherd, 27, also pleaded guilty after police found him near Market Street on Sunday around 9.30am.
He was given 100 hours of community service and told to return to court on June 8 to pick up his community service letter.
Sgt Thompson said that day, officers on mobile patrol in the area noticed a male clad in an orange shirt, brown pants and white shoes walking on the street. When questioned, Shepherd could not give officers a reason to justify him violating the curfew. As a result he was taken to the station where he admitted to the offence and was subsequently cautioned and charged.
During the arraignment, Shepherd disagreed with the facts that were read and told the judge he had only come out of his house because his family had run out of groceries. He explained that he had tried to go to his aunt’s house, who lived around the corner, for food, but said when officers saw him on the street that morning, they arrested him without questioning him.
Magistrate Turnquest-Deveaux told the defendant she would accept his guilty plea and exercise discretion with her sentencing. She also told Shepherd to return to court on June 8 to pick up a community service letter.
John Jamal Louis, 26, was also charged after he was found in the Cowpen Road area on Monday around 8.57pm. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was given 100 hours of community service or three months in prison.
When given an opportunity to speak, Louis said he had only broken the curfew because he had “run low on food” and had left his house to “dash by his old lady” for some tuna and rice.
Bernard Smith, 40, was charged after police found him in the Bethel Avenue area around 8.34pm on Saturday.
He pleaded guilty to the offence and was discharged. Still, Magistrate Turnquest-Deveaux also cautioned him to stay in his yard and urged him to follow the rules of the lockdown to avoid having to appear in court again.
A teenager was also charged for violating the lockdown yesterday.
Officers found 18-year-old McKanzie Cajuste in the area of the six-legged roundabout on JFK Drive around 10am on Saturday. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined $250 or three months at BDCS.
According to the facts, at the time of his arrest, Cajuste told officers he was trying to take the chance to get home after sleeping at a friend’s house.
Magistrate Andrew Forbes also arraigned two other men for violating the lockdown yesterday.
Reno Williams, 35, was charged after officers found him near Sumner Street at 12.35 am on Monday. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined $500 or three months in prison.
Prosecutor Sergeant Kendrick Bauld told the court on the day of the incident, officers observed a male walking on the street. When they questioned him, he said he was headed home. The man was subsequently arrested and interviewed where he admitted to the offence.
When given an opportunity to speak, Williams told the judge he came out of his house to run stray dogs who kept coming into his yard to knock down his garbage.
Steve Cinor, 26, was also charged for violating the lockdown after police found him near Buttonwood Avenue in Pinewood Gardens.
He was fined $350 or two months in prison.
Sgt Bauld said around 6.05pm on Sunday evening, officers on patrol approached a male walking on the street to ask him if he was aware that he was in breach of the curfew.
When questioned, the defendant told officers that he had left his home to buy a soda because they had no more water at home. He was taken to the East Street South Police Station where he was interviewed, and upon admitting to the offence, further cautioned and charged.
During yesterday’s hearing, Cinor told the judge he lived with his girlfriend who had diabetes. He said when the weekend lockdown was announced, he didn’t have time to go to the store and his family had run out of water. Cinor insisted that he had only left his house to go to a nearby shop to buy a sweet drink for his girlfriend.
In response, Magistrate Forbes told Cinor he should have contacted the COVID-19 hotline. He also said because of the nature of his family’s circumstances, Cinor should try to plan better in the future.