By FARRAH JOHNSON
A man who claimed he violated the lockdown to charge his cellphone at a friend’s house because he had no electricity at home was fined $500 yesterday.
He and three other men appeared before Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt for curfew and lockdown infractions. They all admitted to being aware of the emergency protocol when they were found outside their homes.
Joland Nesbitt, 41, was charged after officers found him on Fourth Street around 10.25pm on Sunday May 3. He pleaded guilty and was fined $500 or six weeks at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services.
According to the facts read by prosecutor Lincoln McKenzie, on the night in question, officers observed a man walking north on Fourth Street. When stopped and questioned, the man identified himself as Joland Nesbitt. Sgt McKenzie said he told officers he was outside because he had just come from a friend’s house and was headed home. He was subsequently arrested and in an interview with police, admitted to violating the lockdown.
During the hearing, Nesbitt told Magistrate Ferguson-Pratt that he had just come out of jail and had no electricity in his home, so he would go to his friend’s house across the street to charge his phone. Nesbitt also said that his mother had a stroke recently, so he didn’t usually leave the house on the weekends.
In response, Magistrate Ferguson-Pratt told the defendant he was going to have to find a better way to get his phone charged because he needed to stay at home during the weekend lockdown.
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Pelecanos, 41, was charged after he was found on First Street around 10.20pm on May 5. He also pleaded guilty and was fined $500 or six weeks in prison.
Prosecutor McKenzie said on the night of Pelecanos’ arrest, officers stopped him while he was walking. When questioned, Pelecanos told them he had just come from buying cigarettes. As a result, he was arrested and charged.
When given an opportunity to speak, Pelecanos told the magistrate that he was a fisherman from Long Island who had been stuck in Nassau since the COVID-19 travel restrictions were enforced. He claimed that he hadn’t seen his family since January because he had been in Ragged Island fishing and had come to Nassau right before the prime minister imposed restrictions on domestic and international travel. Nesbitt explained that his circumstances were stressing him out and that was the reason he was outside smoking after 10pm that night.
In response, Magistrate Ferguson-Pratt told Pelecanos that she could not condone his actions as a judicial officer. She also told him that the emergency regulations have been put in place to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and that the country’s health professionals and the government were doing their best to contain the deadly virus so it was important for him to follow the rules.
Officers found 24-year-old Jadre Evans on Market Street and School Lane around 8.39pm on April 30. He pleaded guilty and was given a $350 fine or six weeks at the BDCS.
Prosecutor McKenzie told the court on the night in question, officers observed the defendant driving a grey Honda vehicle and beckoned for him to stop. When questioned, Evans told officers he had just dropped his mother at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) for work. He was then taken to a nearby station where he admitted to violating the curfew in an interview with police.
Evans was represented by attorney Ian Cargil, who told the magistrate to consider the fact that Evans was taking his mother, who was an essential worker, to work.
In response, Magistrate Ferguson-Pratt said while that was a “mitigating” factor, Evans had a duty to follow protocol and call the COVID-19 hotline to inform the authorities of his plans to assist his mother.
Jermaine Ferguson, 42, was charged after he was found on Palmetto Avenue around 3.10am on April 29. He pleaded guilty and was fined $500 or six weeks in prison.
Prosecutor McKenzie said that morning, officers observed Ferguson walking west on Palmetto Avenue. When he was approached and questioned, he told officers he was outdoors because he had just come from his girlfriend’s home. As a result he was arrested and taken to a nearby station. There, he admitted to the offence in an interview with police and was subsequently charged.
During the arraignment, Magistrate Ferguson-Pratt urged Ferguson to follow the emergency regulations. “This is a serious fight,” she said. “Not with weapons or ammunition, but for the health of the country, (therefore) you must stay home.”