By Monique Washington
A case that began at the Magistrate court in Charlestown on Tuesday and ended on Thursday saw Magistrate Yasmine Clarke telling the defendant that what he did to his neighbor was “wicked and bad minded”.
James Phillip of Bath Village appeared at the Magistrate Court on Tuesday (May 9)and pleaded not guilty to the charge of unlawfully and maliciously with intent to destroy 60 crops, which belong to his neighbor Samuel James. His actions were caught on James’ home security cameras. The footage was shown in court. Mr. Phillip was represented by attorney Brian Barns.
The Police Prosecution headed by Inspector Eurita Collins Percival brought forward three witnesses. First was the virtual compliant Samuel James. He testified that on January 18th, right before he left home he made a check on some young crops he had to the front, side and back of his yard. The crops consisted of lettuce and okra.
He said the he returned home around mid day and upon exiting his vehicle he smelled a strong oily like scent. He said that when he got into his yard he noticed that his crops had a glossy like substance on then. He then went inside and checked his security cameras and saw his neighbor Phillip sometime after 8 am but before 9 am with a bottle in his hand spraying something over his fence into James’ yard. What the security camera captured caused him to contact the police.
The second witness took the stand. He testified that he was alerted by the police of what had taken place at the James residence. He said he visited the home of James and noticed that about 60 crops were damaged. He then took a damage assessment and handed it over to the police.
Third to the stand was Corporal Javel Weekes, the investigating officer. He said he visited the home of James on the January 18 and saw damaged crops and took pictures of some of them. He then viewed the security camera and observed Phillip walking from the front to the back of his yard with a bottle in his hand spraying. The footage was taken into evidence. He said that on that day he made an attempt to visit Phillip at his home but he was not there. He then spoke to Phillip some days after and charged him with the offence.
After resting its case, defense presented its case. Phillip took the stand and testified. He told the court on the day of question he was outside spraying. He said that he was spraying fire ants and grass with old diesel oil. He admitted that he knew what damage the oil would do to the crops, but said he did not spray the crops because he had no reason to. He told the court that he and James were friends. He said he knew the crops were there and he did not spray them. He further stated that he knew James had security camera and security lights around his property because he saw when they were installed.
Police prosecutor questioned Phillip about his claims of spraying fire ants. She noted that in the footage Phillip was seen with the bottle at waist height and if he was spraying fire ants his hands would have been low.
Both defense and prosecution presented closing remarks before the magistrate gave her verdict.
“I find that you (Phillip) went out to spray with Samuels crops” magistrate Clarke said. “What happened was a wicked and malicious act on the part of Mr. Phillip. He had total disregard. Mr. James I’m sorry for you because on both sides you have neighbor from hell. You live between two of the worse neighbors All Mr. James want to do is make a life for himself his kids and his wife. This is a man (Phillip) walking around with a stick and spraying the man’s yard. That is wicked and deliberate. Phillip is in twilight years you are not suppose to be bad mind,” she said.
The Magistrate warned Clarke not to interfere with James again and warned him if he ever appears before her for malicious damage the law says he must be sent to jail. Phillip was convicted and fined $500 to be paid in two months and was also asked to pay compensation to Samuel James in the sum of $600 in three months or face two months in prison.