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$10 000 Fine For Stealing Rope by Merv-Ann Thompson Dwight Richards

A Nevisian man has been hit with a $10,000 fine for stealing rope…technically. It was a ‘fishy’ case put before Magistrate Josephine Mallalieu in Charlestown on Tuesday (Mar 25) involving fishermen and stolen boat equipment. Dwight Richards appeared to answer to the charge of larceny of a fishing boat engine. The virtual complainant Jermaine Browne told the court that he last saw his boat on Saturday, June 29, 2013 around 6:30pm when he docked it at the Charlestown pier. The engine was fastened to his boat with four bolts and the boat anchored with a mud hook and a permanent anchor. When he returned 12 hours later, he testified, the engine and mud hook with its rope had disappeared. Browne recalled the day well as “it was my birthday and I wanted to go fishing”. He said he called Lester Richards, another fisherman, and told him of the incident, then made a report at the police station. Browne and Richards later went out to sea and found the boat without an engine. They towed it back to the pier and went to St. Kitts in Richards’ boat. At the Newtown Fisheries Complex, the men saw two boats tied together, one belonging to Dwight Richards of Stoney Grove. Browne said the boats were tied together with what appeared to be his missing rope. He was able to identify his rope by the colour and cut, he testified. He then made reports at the Coast Guard base and the Basseterre Police Station. Police Constable Duncan went to the Fisheries and took the rope from the boat. Dr. Henry Browne represented the defendant and asked J. Browne if he manufactured rope or was an expert in speaking about different types of cuts. “You’re talking about matching the cuts. You want me to send a man to jail for rope cut?”he asked. Lester Richards then took the stand and after giving his account of what transpired Dr. Browne accused him of conspiring with J. Browne to frame his client. He said Richards and his client had had a little spat prior to the alleged events and suggested to the court that his motives were impure. “You have an axe to grind with [Dwight]… so you all tried to frame him,”Dr. Browne said. Sergeant Joel Caines gave evidence that PC Duncan briefed him and he further investigated the matter then arrested D. Richards on Dec. 6 for larceny. D. Richards testified that he has owned a boat with an engine for almost two years now. Dr. Browne presented a copy of the transaction when the engine was purchased. D. Richards said he rode over in his boat on June 29 to attend the Music Festival that evening. He said he took his boat over because he had intentions of waking early the following morning to get some conchs he and his worker spotted earlier in the day. The following day, he said, he received a phone call that his boat had been seized by the Coastguard. The defendant went on to explain that the only rope he obtained was a rope he used with his conchs bag which was longer than Browne’s. In his summation Dr. Browne’s said, “All we have here is a hoopla about rope; it is a ropey case,”he said. “My client was not charged with rope nor anchor [theft]; these are just mere distractions.”Magistrate Mallalieu saw things differently. She found Dwight Richards guilty. She said there was a striking resemblance between the reel of rope and the rope still attached to the anchor. She also stated that the rope was found less than 24 hours after it was reported missing. She read Richards’ criminal record which had convictions for indecent language, larceny, and possession of cannabis. On April 18, Richards was placed on a bond from the high court. Since this has been violated, Magistrate Mallalieu said, he would receive sanctions from the high court. She also ordered him to pay $10,000 in four months or he would serve one year in prison. The missing boat engine is still unaccounted for.

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