By FARRAH JOHNSON
AN Andros man who claimed he violated the lockdown because he was in his vehicle all day and needed to stretch his back was fined $600 yesterday.
The man, who said he was living in his car, was among several people who appeared before Magistrate Sandradee Gardiner for curfew and lockdown violations and was one of the two men who were also charged with drug possession.
Jeremaine Bain, 47, was charged after officers found him around 9.40pm on Poinciana Drive on May 15. He pleaded guilty and was fined $300 or one month at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services. Bain was also charged with being in possession of dangerous drugs after officers seized one gram of Indian hemp from him that night. He also pleaded guilty to that charge and was fined another $300 or one month in prison. Both sentences were ordered to run concurrently.
Prosecutor Lakesia Moss told the court that night, officers on duty in the Poinciana Drive area noticed a male walking in their direction. When questioned, the man, who identified himself as Jeremaine Bain, told the officers he just wanted to go for a walk. He was subsequently arrested and taken to a nearby station where officers searched him for dangerous drugs and firearms. During the search, the officers discovered a small Ziploc bag in Bain’s hat containing one gram of marijuana. In an interview with police, Bain said that he was only outdoors because he was in his car all day and needed to stretch his back. He also said he was using the marijuana as medication.
When given an opportunity to speak, Bain told the magistrate that he lives in Andros but came to Nassau to sort out his insurance. He explained that he was not able to return to Andros due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions so he was living in his car. Bain also said that he had been employed at Cable Bahamas for 13 years, but was no longer able to work because he fell off a ladder and suffered a severe injury.
Meanwhile, Damarcus Knowles, 27, was charged after officers found him on Windsor Lane around 10.15pm on May 14. He pleaded guilty and was fined $450 or one month at BDCS. Knowles was also charged with drug possession after the officer found one gram of Indian hemp in his jacket pocket that night. He pleaded guilty and was fined another $300 or one month in prison.
Prosecutor Moss said on the night in question, officers on mobile patrol observed a male walking on the street. When they questioned him, he told them he was on his way home. Officers then searched Knowles for dangerous drugs and firearms and discovered a small quantity of suspected marijuana in his left jacket pocket. As a result, he was arrested. During an interview with police, Knowles told officers that he was only outside because he had gone for something to eat. He also claimed that he was waiting for the rain to die down so that he could go home and had bought the marijuana earlier that day to smoke.
During the hearing, Knowles was represented by attorney Phillip Lundy. He told the magistrate that his client was going to his uncle’s house to get food for him and his child during the time of his arrest. He added that the defendant was a construction worker who was unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and claimed that he smoked the marijuana to help relieve stress.
In response, Magistrate Gardiner told Mr Lundy that his client could not justify breaking the law to relieve tension, because if he got caught, the consequences of his offences would cause more stress.
Officers found Tavaran Ferguson, 34, on Hutchinson Street around 9.40pm on May 13. He pleaded guilty and was fined $400 or two months at BDCS. Prosecutor Moss said when Ferguson was interviewed by police, he told them that he was going to a Haitian woman for some water.
When given an opportunity to speak, Ferguson told the magistrate that his family had run out of water so he had left the house to get some. When asked why he didn’t purchase the water before the curfew came into effect, he told Magistrate Gardiner that he was waiting on his brother to bring the money to buy the water because he was unemployed.
Keford Stubbs, 56, was charged after officers found him on Malcolm Road around 12am on May 16. He pleaded guilty and was fined $600 or one month in prison. Prosecutor Moss said at the time of his arrest, Stubbs told officers that he had just come from his girlfriend’s residence. She also said during his interview, that he said he had called the COVID-hotline and got permission from an operator who told him to “hurry up and go home” to his mother. But during the arraignment, Stubbs admitted that he had not contacted the emergency hotline. He also said that he had only left his girlfriend’s house because they had gotten into an argument and he wanted to leave.
Allan Pratt, 33, and Victor Smith, 39, were charged after officers found them on Malcolm Road around 11.50pm on May 13. They both pleaded guilty, but told the magistrate that they had a subcontract with the Department of Environmental Health to pick up trash. During the hearing, the men said that even though they did not have a letter identifying them as essential workers, they had picked up garbage every week for the past month and had never gotten stopped.
In response, Magistrate Gardiner told the men that they should not have been outdoors if they did not have permission from the competent authority. She also noted that the fact that they got away with it the first time, did not give them the freedom to continue violating the curfew.