Some persons with mental health problems who take to the streets when they are supposed to be at the Mental Health Rehabilitation Centre (MHRC), are creating problems for the rest of society.
Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett raised this concern on Tuesday during a sitting of the Kingstown Magistrate Court.
He was presiding over a matter in which 44-year-old Alvan Richardson of Diamond pleaded guilty to stealing a JanSport bag valued $400, containing $700 in cash and other items including a passport, all being the property of someone who was doing maintenance work at Browne’s Hardware, Kingstown.
The theft is said to have been executed around 12:05 p.m. on January 3,2021
Richardson was arrested following a report to the police and during a search of his persons, $500 in cash was discovered folded and wrapped up in the leg of his trousers.
The complainant recovered the bag with the other stuff at Paul’s Avenue in the vicinity of VINLEC, but $200 was not recovered.
Richardson had been confined to the MHRC but according to Prosecutor Renrick Cato, the defendant is always on the streets of Kingstown and poses a problem especially when he is not taking his medication.
The Prosecutor informed the Court that Richardson was unemployed and would not be able to pay a fine or compensation.
“What do you do with defendants like these?” the Senior Magistrate questioned.
“He has a mental health problem, and when they are out on the streets, they create a problem for the rest of society,” he added.
Burnett pointed out that, “When someone is sent as custody of the state to the Mental Health Centre, there should be some level of security.”
Noting that the first offence that landed Richardson before the Court was committed at the age of 14. Burnett added, “So the problem we are seeing in this Court ain’t just come. Most of them started their lives of crime when they were boys, but that is a story for the sociologists.”
Burnett agreed that, “He is going back out to do the same thing. I have to protect society from people like him,” and admiited that “the Court has to be mindful of the fact that this guy has a mental health problem.”
The Magistrate while recognizing that the defendant should be at the MHRC, also noted that but when he is sent there, he is back out on the streets.
Richardson was sentenced to four months behind bars, but his time on remand will be taken into account.