Rudolf Gibson, a 64-year-old man of Arnos Vale who, without the owner’s permission, killed and cleaned his nephew Andy Davis’ ewe sheep on the spot where it was tied, was sentenced to four months in prison on Monday.
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne handed down the penalty at the Serious Offences Court after Gibson pleaded guilty to theft.
Sadly, though, some 15 years after the Agricultural Produce and Livestock (Prevention of Theft) Act was passed here specifically to protect farmers, it is still not being enforced by the police.
The Court heard that Davis, also a resident of Arnos Vale, was once employed with his uncle (Gibson), but was fired because of allegations of stealing.
Around 10 a.m. on September 9, Davis was on his way to pick some fruits when he saw Gibson with a travelling bag over his back.
Davis continued on his journey but sent one of his workers to check on some animals he had tied in an area at Arnos Vale. The worker went, and on arrival, he met Gibson cleaning the animal and had the same travelling bag with him.
The worker left and reported what he saw to Davis. However, when Davis went on the scene Gibson had already left.
The travelling bag was met there along with meat.
The matter was reported to the police and Gibson was arrested and charged.
In a caution statement to the police, which was read in Court, Gibson said, “I walk go up in pasture where Miller and Andy does tie dem animals when I see a sheep for Andy. I used my knife and kill the sheep. I put the head and meat in the travelling bag. I was going to eat some and kill some, but Andy come de same time.”
In his recommendations for sentencing, Prosecutor Renrick Cato highlighted how farmers have been suffering over the years as a result of the ongoing theft of their livestock and agricultural produce. He asked the Court to impose a penalty that would send a strong message to those who steal from farmers or intend so too.
Former Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delpleche, during his tenure as Prosecutor, had repeatedly called on the police to charge such culprits under the Agricultural and Livestock (Prevention of Theft) Act.
This Act was passed in 2007, specifically to protect farmers, but some 15 years later, the police are still charging the culprits with theft, under the Criminal Code.
In a matter at the Serious Offences Court, dated back to August 31, 2020, involving the theft of 75 avocadoes, Court Clerk Corporal David Wright told the Court that, he thinks there are police officers who are not familiar with the relevant sections of the Act.
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne had said then that it was up to the supervisors, and those in charge of the various police stations to ensure that the officers are familiar with the Act.
Speaking as a friend of the Court, at the hearing of that matter, Attorney Grant Connell had also called on the police to enforce the law. He pointed out that the Agricultural Produce and Livestock (Prevention of the Theft) Act, makes provisions for harsher penalties, gives the police the power to stop vehicles loaded with agricultural produce and livestock to request a certificate of purchase, and that vehicles used to commit those offences could be seized and forfeited upon conviction.
Connell had subsequently said , “The Authorities have put the mechanism in place since 2007 to protect farmers, but the police are not applying the Act. I have no issue with giving the police stations a copy of the Act.