Tyree Quashie, 23, and Akeem Khan, 20, of KP Lands, Valencia appeared before magistrate Brambhanan Dubay in the Third Court charged with unlawful possession of a quantity of steel. The charge was laid by Constable Mitchell of North Eastern Division Task Force.
Court prosecutor Fitzgerald Johnson told the court that on Friday July 2, constables Mitchell and Khan of the Task Force were in an unmarked police vehicle near the church construction site when they spotted Quashie and Khan loading materials from the compound on to a parked pick-up van.
The officers stopped the driver of the van shortly after he drove from the church compound and on to Cemetery Street in Guanapo.
Unable to give the officers a valid explanation as to how they came into possession of the quantity of steel, both Quashie and Khan were cautioned and arrested. The pick-up and its steel cargo were confiscated.
Dubay later went to the carpark of the court to view the steel which was still loaded in the open tray of the pick-up. Johnson said a strong message had to be sent to those who want to commit crime that such activities will not be condoned.
But Dubay said he had to take the following into account: the accused men were caught red-handed, they did not waste the court’s time by pleading guilty and had no previous convictions.
He then fined each of the accused $3,000 or in default of payment, six months imprisonment with hard labour. He warned the two men to consider being fined rather than imprisoned as a second chance to do something with their lives.
Quashie was ordered to pay $1,000 forthwith and was ordered to pay the rest within 30 days while Khan said he could only pay $200 forthwith.
He too was granted 30 days to pay the rest of the fine.
Rampant looting took place at the church site after it was abandoned by Chinese workers after the then PNM government was ousted from power by the People’s Partnership in the May 24 General Election.