Judge rules boat thief must be named

A 54-year-old woman was sentenced to two years’ probation in the Supreme Court yesterday after Acting Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe ruled against a defence lawyer’s submission in favour of a publication ban.

Mary-Beth Sherwin, from Paget, was found guilty of trespassing in a house on Hinson’s Island, Paget, on June 28, 2018 and stealing $20, after a two-day trial in Magistrates’ Court last October.

She pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court in November 2019 to taking a 16-foot boat on March 2, 2018 without the consent of the owner.

The sentencing covered both incidents. Susan Mulligan, the defence counsel, admitted that a publication ban was unusual for a sentencing.

But she said a ban covering her client’s name and details was appropriate because of the content of reports that had been prepared for the court.

She said their publication “could well have a detrimental impact” on her client’s “future mental health and recovery”.

Ms Mulligan added that the public interest could best be served by allowing her client to move ahead with her recovery plans out of the public eye.

She asked the court to “rely on concern for the rehabilitation of this particular individual” as well as considering her right to privacy.

Mr Justice Wolffe said: “You are asking not to record her name, something which goes further than I am aware of in this court on this type of application.”

He added that some evidence had already been heard in the case, and there did not have to be additional references to it.

Mr Justice Wolffe added that sentence options had also been discussed earlier. He added: “It could be really simple, we can proceed to that if the Crown is open to it.”

Ms Mulligan said naming her client “could set her back and make it harder for her to comply with the order” of the court. She added that her client “was on a good path now, working on it a day at a time”.

Mr Justice Wolffe ruled: “I do not see any need in the public interest to have a ban on publication of the defendant’s name.

“I do not see much difference between her matter and many other matters that come before the court.”

But he asked counsel to “as much as possible steer around any specifics” in reports on the defendant prepared for the court.

Ms Mulligan said she agreed with the proposed sentence of two years’ probation as well as the conditions of probation included in the social inquiry report.

Shaunte Simons, the Crown counsel, said she had “no objection to the sentence indicated”.

Mr Justice Wolffe said he had considered the contents of reports prepared for the court and Sherwin’s plea of guilty on the boat charge.

The conditions attached to the probation order included an order to avoid the use of controlled drugs and alcohol, submit to random drug testing, complete programmes ordered by the Department of Court Services, and to be assessed for treatment.

Sherwin was also ordered to pay reparations of $7,500 to the boat’s owner, to be made before October 31.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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