A motorcar detained by Georgetown police during the commission of a crime and that should be an exhibit according to law, was delivered to a person claiming ownership before the matter was heard in court.

Georgetown police last week Wednesday took into custody motor vehicle PR613 along with a sack of stolen oranges and 6 empty sacks found in the trunk. The driver and custodian of the motor vehicle at the time was Richland Park resident Roneil Bobb who had trespassed on lawyer Grant Connell’s farm at Congo Valley and stolen 150 oranges which he placed in a sack and stored in the motor vehicle.

Bobb was caught in the act by Connell who at the time was on his farm and was informed of crime being committed at another area of his property. The police were contacted and they went to the farm and took the motor vehicle, the sack of oranges, the empty sacks and Bobb into custody.

Bobb was asked to produce a certificate of purchase or receipt, as required by law, but he failed to do so. He refused to give a statement.

The Richland Park man, who was said to be a farmer himself, was charged with theft initially under section 209 of the Criminal Code.  Before the matter was taken to court on Monday, the police had granted bail to Bobb and had returned the vehicle to the owner. On Monday, just prior to the matter being called before district magistrate Bertie Pompey, Sergeant of police Delroy Tittle, who was previously attached to the National Prosecution Service, provided guidance on the proper and relevant charge to be applied.

Section 11 of the said Act states: “If upon being required to produce a certificate of purchase or receipt or to give proof of ownership, or to give an account under section 10, the person in charge of the vehicle or other means of conveyance does not produce the certificate of purchase or receipt or fails to give proof of ownership, or does not give an account, or, if he produces a certificate of purchase or receipt or gives proof of ownership or gives an account that in the opinion of the constable is not genuine, the constable may regard that person as a suspected person and may – (a) arrest that person and any other person whom he has reasonable cause to suspect; (b) seize any agricultural produce or livestock that the suspected person was found conveying; and (c) seize any vehicle or other means of conveyance, or any parcel or package whereby the suspected person was conveying the agricultural produce or livestock.”

The vehicle was taken into custody but because of flawed procedure, it was omitted from further participation in the prosecution process, thus it did not form part of the exhibits before the court.

Photo taken on Property of Connell

Section 12 (1) states: “As soon as may be practicable after the arrest of a suspected person, the constable making the arrest shall carry the suspected person before a magistrate together with any agricultural produce or livestock, vehicle or other means of conveyance, parcel, package or any other item seized.”

Section 18 of the said Act gives the magistrate the power to make an order for the vehicle to be forfeited and sold and the proceeds paid into the Consolidated Fund.

Section 19 (2) however allows for the owner of the vehicle to make an application to the magistrate for the vehicle to be restored to him. The magistrate may order that the vehicle be restored to the owner on payment of any expenses incurred in transporting and keeping the vehicle.

Section 19 (4) says, however, that an order shall not be made to restore the vehicle to the owner unless the magistrate is satisfied that the owner did not permit any person convicted under section 12 or 13 to use the vehicle for conveying any agricultural produce or livestock or any other item in respect of which the offence was committed; or had no knowledge that any such person convicted would use the vehicle for the said purpose.Because of the manner in which the police proceeded, the vehicle was never before the court for any determination by the magistrate on Monday when Bobb pleaded guilty to the charge.

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