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For the series of burglaries Prosecutor asked 20 years for Felix Floyd Crawford

June 24, 2016
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GREAT BAY – Prosecutor Karola van Nie demanded 20 years of imprisonment yesterday morning against Felix Floyd C. for a series of nine home burglaries, four armed home robberies, attempted manslaughter on a police officer and firearm and ammunition possession. The court will present an interim-ruling on July 13.

The 38-year old defendant was brought under heavy security into the court room. Outside, the Hendrik Straat next to the courthouse was closed off for all traffic and C. was brought in with a belt around his waist and his hands cuffed close to his sides. He remained like that all through the court hearing that lasted until the early afternoon.

The prosecution has charged C. with nine home burglaries, committed between December 31 2010, and October 21, 2015; the targeted homes are located on Okra Drive, Reward Road, Pumpkin Road, Nevis Drive, Okra Road, Date Mussel Road, Blue Bell Drive and Touch Me Not Road.

The burglary at Date Mussel road, committed on October 17, 2011 stands out, because this was the house of former Chief Commissioner Peter de Witte. C. stole the chief commissioner’s service weapon, a Walther P5, ammunition, jewelry and $13,000 in cash.

The armed robberies took place in 2011 and 2015 at the Touch Me Not Road, the Port of Spain Drive, the Celsius Street, the Calabas Drive and the Pointsetta Road. On September 24, 2015, C. robbed two homes on the Pointsetta Road, but there he ran into a police officer. Making his escape, C. fired shots in the direction of the policeman, and that set him up for an attempted manslaughter charge.

Prosecutor Van Nie said that there have been 28 armed home robberies in 2015. She described the defendant as armed and dangerous, but also as persistent and goal-oriented. “He knows what he is doing,” she said.

He is illegally in St. Maarten and he is illiterate. He has six children and he told the court that his children are the most important in his life. That did not stop him to commit armed robberies in homes where small children were present.

Most of the robberies were committed during the day. All homes were on the outskirts of neighborhoods. At all places where C. stole stuff – mostly electronics and cash – he went into the fridge, took a drink and left the bottle on the sink. That is where investigators found his DNA.

The prosecutor considered all charges proven and told the court that the defendant is wanted in Antigua for armed robberies. She announced that the prosecutor’s office will in a later stadium come with a demand to seize assets from the defendant.

Attorney Sjamira Roseburg asked the court to acquit her client of several burglaries for lack of evidence and of the attempted manslaughter. “There was no intention to kill the police officer. The weapon went off accidentally,” she said. “That happens. He had just committed a burglary and he had his hands full while he attempted to get away.”

Roseburg furthermore said that it is impossible to establish what really has been stolen from the homes. “Victims mention anything to the police that they are unable to find,” she said.

Roseburg objected to the way het client was brought into court. “Like a monster. He cannot use his hands to express himself when he speaks; he has been sitting here handcuffed all morning  and he has been described as a man without a conscience. This is not hardened criminal; he is also a human being. He only stole to survive.”

SOURCE: Today Newspaper

PHOTO: 721 News

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Missing girl contacts police after being label as missing

July 10, 2014
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TSXM – GREAT BAY – The Police Department has called off the search for the missing woman, Tajrani “Sherika” Roopnarine, yesterday because on that morning at approximately 9 am she contacted the police department by phone.

She stated that she is fine and in good health. The reason for leaving her home and not contacting her parents or other family members is completely personal. Roopnarine has been in contact with the Detective Department and will be coming in to give a statement, police reported.

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Canadian hip hop artist robbed in St Maarten at Mullet Bay

June 27, 2014
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TSXM – GREAT BAY – The entire belongings of Canadian hip hop artist Keith Sweeney, known by his stage name DT, were stolen from the trunk of his car on Mullet Bay beach yesterday around 1 pm.  Sweeney is down to shoot videos and pictures for his upcoming album, and to perform at the Laugh Till Your Belly Burst comedy show. Sweeney visited the Today in an appeal to the public to help return his stolen items if found, especially his passport and other ID. “Right now I have nothing to identify myself,” he lamented.

He said that he headed directly to Mullet Bay after landing on the island and parked his car in the parking lot near the entrance of the beach, leaving his baggage locked in the trunk figuring St. Maarten was “The Friendly Island.” When he returned to his car, he noticed the trunk had been tampered with, and his luggage, which had all his clothes for the trip, his passport, wallet, a Canon T1i camera, and a silver 15” Macbook Pro, was stolen. His photographer, who accompanied him on the trip down, had her luggage stolen too.

In fact, Sweeney was at the office in nothing but a tank top and pajama pants loaned to him by some sympathetic friends. And his photographer is in the same bind. Thankfully, he said, a couple of stores on the island have agreed to donate some clothes to him to help out. “I just got a donation from Urban Gear and Style 108,” he said.

Sweeny was not pleased with his experience with the police force here either. “I’m sitting there with police and they didn’t do anything, not even send a car out to check.” Aside from having to wait for more than an hour before being properly helped to get an official report, he said he was told that these kinds of thefts and break ins happen often at Mullet Bay, especially with rental cars. “If you as a police officer know that, then why aren’t you there patrolling all the time?” he asked.

He described getting irate at the station when he went to file a complaint because of the attitude he was getting until he was finally taken aside by a detective. “It took him an hour and a half to type one page!” an astonished Sweeney said, which cost him precious time to go to other government departments to sort out his situation.

“This is frustrating for me,” he added of his ordeal so far. “I feel like I’ve lost my independence.”  Sweeny is caught in a surreal and absurd situation. “I can’t take out money or receive money because I have no ID. My independence was taken from me,” he repeated. He cannot access his account for money because his bank cards were stolen, but in order to receive money from overseas he needs to provide ID, which obviously he cannot. So far he has been fortunate to have friends on the island who’ve assisted, as well as family back in Toronto.

Sweeney plans to visit the Governor’s cabinet (the Governor is St. Maarten’s head of state on behalf of the King) for assistance as a foreign national in distress. He intends to apply for an emergency Canadian passport and will appeal to the Governor for immediate help. But in the meantime, he is stranded here until that happens.

He asked that people who do come across his stolen items can anonymously drop them off at the Today offices with no questions asked. He is particularly appealing to have his passport and documents like driver’s license, etc. returned.

In the meantime, the parking lot at the entrance to Mullet Bay beach remains a prime target for theft, especially for visitors like Sweeney.

 

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St Maarten still source of transit and destination for sex trafficking

June 27, 2014
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TSXM – GREAT BAY – Like last year, the annual Trafficking in Persons (TiP) report from the American State Department describes St. Maarten as a source, transit, and destination for women, children and men subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. “There are indications that some foreign migrant women in St. Maarten’s sex trade are subjected to debt bondage,” the report states.

The most vulnerable women and girls to sex trafficking are from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Russia and Eastern Europe.

The TiP-report repeats last year’s estimate that around 15,000 “illegal migrant workers are highly vulnerable to forced domestic service and forced labor in construction, Chinese supermarkets, retail shops, security, landscaping and housekeeping. St. Maarten authorities report that workers from India, China, Haiti, Jamaica and other Caribbean islands are subjected to exploitative conditions involving indicators of forced labor.”

The report notes that St. Maarten does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. “However, it is making significant efforts to do so.” The report substantiates this observation with the fact that the government has established a national reporting bureau on human trafficking and that it launched an anti-trafficking hotline last year.

The TiP-report recommends that St. Maarten implement a proactive victim protection measures “to guide officials, including health workers, on how to identify and assist victims of forced labor and sex trafficking. Furthermore, the country ought to implement procedure to transport potential trafficking victims to a safe location for victim identification interviews. “Victims often first appear as immigration violators and are reluctant to disclose details of their exploitation,” the report notes.

Another recommendation is to include a Spanish-speaking victim advocate in routine health inspections at legal brothels, and to provide outreach for all incoming immigrants.

Without mentioning the brothel or its owner by name, the TiP-report revisits the 2012 trial of Border Bar owner  Ignacio Augustin Priest who was sentenced to 54 months that year for sex trafficking. “A defendant was convicted for sex trafficking at a regulated brothel. According to media reports, officials granted the establishment a new opening permit despite a request by the prosecutor’s office to close down this brothel.”

Immigration authorities reported “that the standard law enforcement response for women who escape government-licensed brothels continues to be deportation, rather than investigating the circumstances driving their escape.”

In a roundabout way, the TiP-report again brings up the possible ties between high-ranking civil servants and the prostitution industry: “The government did not report any new investigations or prosecutions of government employees, including among high-level officials with alleged financial ties to brothels in the country, for alleged complicity in trafficking-related offenses.”

The report furthermore reveals that the government established an inter-disciplinary team, headed by the head of immigration to conduct inspections at government-licensed brothels. “Although the government reported conducting two immigration-related enforcements checks for safety code violations in all regulated brothels in 2013, in was unclear to what extent these inspections involved explicit screening for trafficking indicators.”

The State Department found “notable progress in the government’s anti-trafficking prevention efforts” due to the establishment of the national reporting bureau. The director of immigration and border control has the role of national anti-trafficking coordinator.

On the other hand: “the government did not launch any campaign explicitly targeted at reducing the demand for forced labor or discouraging potential clients from engaging in the sex trade in St. Maarten. The government has not identified incidents of foreign child sex tourism.”

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Four years for violent theft at Tamarind Hotel in Point Blanche

June 26, 2014
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TSXM – GREAT BAT – The Court in First Instance sentenced 23-year-old Hashantley Fulgencio Martina yesterday to 4 years imprisonment for theft of a motorbike with the use of violence. The court acquitted the defendant of attempted manslaughter and causing grievous bodily harm to a security guard at the Tamarind Hotel on December 2 of last year. Of the sentence 1 year is suspended. Martina has to pays $6,500 to compensate the owner for the loss of his bike.

Martina and another man went to the Tamarind Hotel in Pointe Blanche round 4 a.m. on December 2. The two men attacked a security guard by hitting him three times with a solid object on the back of his head. Because the guard did not see who hit him, the court acquitted Martina of attempted manslaughter.

The defendant told investigators that he had been in the company of “a boy from St. Kitts” and that he is the one who hit the guard. While the court found no proof that Martina hit the guard, the defendant confessed that he had taken a wallet and a set of keys from the victim’s pockets, that he used the keys to enter the offices of the hotel, and that he stole the motor bike – a 2006 Suzuki Hayabusa.

Judge Koos van de Ven ruled that the defendant’s statements are evidence that he is guilty of theft with the use of violence.

The consequences of the robbery were dramatic for the guard. Hotel guests found him around 6 a.m. – two hours after the attack – unconscious. “Four months later the guard still suffers the consequences,” the court ruling states. “He often suffers from memory loss, he lost his ability to smell and to taste, he has occasional headaches and when he exerts himself he gets dizzy. His head is fractured in several places. On top of his head is a dip that still has to be fixed. The defendant did not care about the victim and left him behind for dead.”

The security guard remained unconscious for two weeks. “The only thing I remember from that night is that I got a severe blow to the back of my head and that afterwards I was unconscious,” the guard told police on February 12. “The moment I came to, I was already for two weeks in the hospital in Santo Domingo. I did not see the attack coming, so I also do not know who attacked me.”

The court also found Martina guilty of ill-treating a man on September 11 of last year near the Saith supermarket in Pointe Blanche. He thumped his victim against his head several times, supposedly because the victim had made statements against Martin’s brother Juni to the police.

Jude van de Ven gave Martina a lower sentence than the 7 years the prosecution demanded during the trial on June 4, because he did not find evidence for all charges.

 

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More education needed for teenage mothers

August 14, 2013
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TSXM – GREAT BAY- More than 30 percent of new mothers who visit the Baby Wellness Clinic are  teenagers who are compelled into adulthood to assume the responsibility of nurturing a new born.
“A little more than 30 percent of visitors to the Baby Clinic are really young teenagers,” registered nurse Marcella Richardson told Today. She was at the time speaking at the 3rd annual Pregnancy Market organized by Collective Preventative Services last week.
The nurse was only too happy to disseminate information to many of the young mothers who responded to the Ministry of Public Health’s call to attend the Pregnancy Market.
Approximately 40 mothers visit the clinic daily. Some of the most common questions that teenage mothers ask include how to calm irate babies.
“They would ask how to stop a crying baby but this depends most of the times on what the mother eats. If they eat very gassy foods then it will have repercussions. If you are breastfeeding, at the end of the day it rests with the baby. Broccoli and spinach is good for the mother in terms of her hemoglobin but at the same time it is not good for the baby,” the nurse explained.
She recommended that both mothers and their babies consume anti-gas tea, lots of water, cinnamon or aniseed tea.
She said that young mothers in particular need to be more educated on the nutrition of a child.
“They are giving the babies a lot of fatty foods and things they do not need.  They need to know a lot about nutrition. They give them cereal, water down the milk and even give toddlers a lot of fast food and soda. This is not good. We help them along the way in terms of how to prepare the formula,” she added.
Raising a child is expensive and involves a great deal of responsibility. That is why the nurse has advocated that couples wait until they are properly educated and financially stable to start a family.
The Baby Wellness Clinic is involved in public health advocacy, nutrition, growth and development of society’s future.

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