Carlton Symonette, 44, of 97 Pioneers Way and Stork Benis,49, of 27 Jack Fish Drive had their day in court Monday (March 9), where they were charged with several counts of theft.
Appearing before Deputy Chief Magistrate Debbye Ferguson in court #1, where their matter was heard.
The two pled guilty to majority of the counts, but cited their drug actions was a default of their drug addictions. Symonette and Benis expressed there is no excuse for the damaged caused but alleged that they were “badly handled” by officers. The duo claimed that they were horribly beaten, which led to their plea to some of the charges.
Magistrate Ferguson opened Symonette’s docket and read his charges. He had not legal representation; however, his girlfriend attending the hearing in his support.
“It is alleged that you on the 2nd of February, 2020, while in Freeport stole a car battery valued at $80 from a 2001 Mitsubishi Mirage, registration unknown, the property of Floyd Hamilton.
“Between the 8th and the 9th of January 2020 in Freeport you stole a propane tank valued at $250, the property of Viola Maycock.
“The 1st of December 2019, you stole a car battery valued at $112 from a Toyota Chaser registration #2345, the property of Cornell Strachan. Guilty or not?”
Symonette replied, “Guilty with an explanation.”
Ferguson asked again, “Guilty or not?”
Symonette answered, “Guilty.”
Ferguson continued, “It is alleged on the shop breaking contrary to Section 362 of the Penal Code, you between the 10th and the 11th of February 2020, at Freeport did unlawfully break and enter the Perfume Factory on Princess Lane in the International Bazaar with intent to steal therein.
“You have a choice of having this matter heard before this court with the magistrate sitting alone or if you wish, I can transfer (it) to the Supreme Court that sits upstairs, where a judge a jury will hear the evidence and make a decision. Which one do you choose?” she asked.
“I choose this court. I will plead guilty to this one even though I didn’t do it, but I don’t want to waste your time,” Symonette told the magistrate.
Continuing the charges against Symonette, Magistrate Ferguson said, at the same date and location, “You are alleged to have stolen an assortment of colognes valued at $2,000 the property of the Perfume factory. How do you plead?”
The accused entered a guilty plea.
Interjecting, Prosecutor Sergeant Rolle revealed, “As it relates to the matter with Floyd Hamilton on Sunday the 2nd of February at about 2:30 a.m., the virtual complainant contacted the Central Police Station and reported that an unknown person had stolen his battery from his vehicle valued at $80. As a result, the defendant was made arrested during the course of the investigation and charged.
“As it relates to the case of Viola Maycock, on Thursday the 9th of January at about 1:04 p.m., the virtual complainant, Mrs. Maycock, contacted the police station and reported that sometime on Tuesday the 7th of January 2020, at about 5:30 p.m. and Wednesday the 8th of January at 2:30 p.m., some unknown person would’ve stolen her propane tank by disconnecting seem from a resident valued at $250. An investigation was launched, which led to the arrest of the defendant who was subsequently charged with the offence.
Ferguson questioned if the items was recovered, to which Sgt. Rolle replied he had no information regarding the recovery of items.
“As it relates to the matter of Strachan, on Monday the 2th of December 2019, at about 9:50 a.m., the virtual complainant, Mr. Strachan, came into the police station and reported that sometime on Monday the 1th of December 2019, some unknown person would’ve stolen his car battery from his vehicle. As a result, an investigation was launched which led to the arrest of the defendant who subsequently admitted to the offence while being interviewed under caution.
“Sometime between the 10th of February 2020 at 5:10 p.m. and Tuesday February 11th at 8:40 a.m., culprits would’ve broke it into a side glass that would’ve gain entry into the Perfume factory located in the International Bazaar on the Mall Drive and stole an assortment of fragrances. As a result, after an audit was done of the place, it was estimated that some $2,000 worth of cologne was stolen from the premises. The defendant was later arrested and during the cause of the investigation, the defendant was found responsible.
Symonette requested permission to speak and was granted the opportunity. “I was beaten and forced to sign these things that I didn’t do. I admit to other things I did for various reasons, but Your Honour I get beat so bad. I got hit in my ‘eggs ‘and that caused me to sign things. I have proof where it happened to me, but everything else I admit to what I did. But the shop breaking, I plead guilty to it because I don’t want waste your time,” he alleged.
“You can’t say that because you are not helping me,” the magistrate told the accused.
Sgt. Rolle explained that the plea was equal to a not guilty plea and set Symonette’s adjourned date to June 27, 2020.
Ferguson addressed both Benis and Symonette on their two-fold matter and read their charges. “The 15th and the 19th of January 2020 at Freeport, Grand Bahama, you two being concerned together did unlawfully break and enter International Paint on Milton Street with intent to steal therein.
“You have a choice of having the matter heard before the Magistrate Court with the magistrate sitting alone or if you wish, I can transfer the matter to the Supreme Court upstairs where a judge and jury will sit, hear the evidence and make a decision.
“Which court Stork?” Magistrate Ferguson asked Benis, who answered that he wanted to enter a guilty plea and maintained that he returned the paint.
Symonette also enter a guilty plea, when questioned.
Ferguson continued, “On the same date, time and place, it is alleged that you both being concerned together or on your own, did steal from the International Paint 725-gallon marine paint, which is valued at $400 each; 15 hurricane impact windows which is are valued at $350 each; 36 one-gallon Joy detergent at $9.99 each, all together $34,409.64 the property of the International Paint. Which court for that count?” she asked.
Both men asked for the Magistrate Court, adding that they were confused by the charges; however, they will go ahead and plead guilty.
Magistrate Ferguson continued to Benis, “It is alleged that between the 3rd of February and the 4 th of February at Freeport, you unlawfully broke in and entered the Grand Bahama Home for the Aged.”
Ferguson asked which plea and which court, “This court,” Benis replied, “And I plead not guilty.”
Ferguson continued, “On the same day, time and place, it is alleged that you did steal from the Grand Bahama Home for the Aged children’s section, a microwave worth $300; a deep fryer worth $200 all together valued at $500 at the Grand Bahama Home for the Aged.
“How do you plead?” Magistrate Ferguson asked. “I plead not guilty,” Benis responded.
Questioning the accused, Magistrate Ferguson wanted to know if he pleaded guilty to all counts. Benis admitted he was guilty to some of the charges, but not all. He furthered that he did not want to go through the back-and-forth with Magistrate Ferguson.
Magistrate Ferguson asked, “Did you do it?”
Benis said, “I did not do it Your Honour.”
Ferguson continued, “At Freeport, you did steal 355-gallon drums containing liquid foam valued at $2,166.67 each, all together valued at $6,500 at the property of Spartan Builder’s and consultants.
“Which court?” she asked.
Benis told the court, “This court … I plead guilty on that. But I only took two barrels and the camera shows that I only took two barrels. I don’t know if they are saying that for insurance purposes, but I only took two barrels.”
Sgt. Rolle explained, “On Sunday the 19th of January 2020, at 10:30 p.m., Tamiko Hanna came to the Central Police Station and reported that on Wednesday the 15th of January 2020, that sometime after 8:00 a.m., while making a check of his business establishment, sometime between the 15th and Sunday the 19th of January 2020, he discovered that his place was broken into.”
Sgt. Rolle set the adjourned date in this matter for June 22, 2020.
Due to the amount of goods returned, Magistrate Ferguson asked Benis to compensate the virtual complainants $80 for the car battery; $250 for the tank, $112 d for a battery and both Benis and Symonette are to compensate the virtual complainant. $16, 204.82 each for the stolen paint, hurricane impact windows and Joy detergent.
Before leaving the court room, both men expressed themselves. Benis said, “There is no excuse. I did what I have done, but during the hurricane some of the stuff was in disarray, but still I had no right to take it or bother it.
“I mean the police exaggerated a little bit, maybe for insurance purposes, but I understand and I accept full responsibility. I am sorry to the court, I am sorry to Spartan Builders and International Paint.”
Symonette shared, “This matter has given me time to reflect on the wrong I did. This year taught me how to stay away from bad company, because it leaves you in a position to beg for mercy. Your Honour I am not getting younger, I am getting older and looking at my drug addiction; I am not getting better, I am getting worse. This is has given me time to reflect, get my life in order and move on.”