Putting the boot into crime
In today’s economic climate, many households do not have $5,000 lying around in loose change. Those who are swimming in it can afford to throw down five large on a poker table and not lose a moment’s sleep, but for most of us such an outlay requires considerable thought — and most definitely a family meeting.
Not only is it a fairly substantial amount, but our courts showed it this week to be the difference between biting and verbally abusing Her Majesty’s finest, and beating a pair of would-be thieves to within inches of their lives.
Wherever she is, Tamara Lodge may feel that she can’t catch a break from the Bermuda legal system.
At the time, many believed she was let off lightly with a $5,600 fine for sinking her gnashers into a female police officer, and for verbally and racially abusing her and a fellow officer during a drunken outburst at Horseshoe Bay Beach.
But placed in the context of what happened in Dockyard last Friday morning, and the subsequent ruling by a magistrate of an absolute discharge and $600 in fines, the now unemployed television producer’s supporters — few as they are likely to be — might argue that she showed up for court on the wrong day and in front of the wrong arbiter.
No on both counts.
Khamisi Tokunbo oversaw the cases of both sets of tourists, ruling efficiently on one hand but playing a remarkable sympathy card on the other.
While no one can argue that American siblings Aaron and Kimberly Alexandre were cruising Dockyard looking for a fight, their actions after they and their accomplices won it and successfully subdued their attackers speak volumes.
No fewer than 25 blows delivered primarily to the heads of Antoine Seaman and Micah Hughes — kicks, stamps, punches and helmet bashes — each as forceful and venomous as what came before, and from as many as four attackers, although only two appeared before the courts.
All after it was clear from the videos, which circulated from one end of the island and back quicker than a discombobulated Trevor Berbick could stumble across the width of the ring in his spectacular 1986 knockout defeat by Mike Tyson, that there was nothing coming back in the other direction.
The intent was there undoubtedly to do serious damage. As barbaric as what could be found in the “sport” of UFC.
The attempted theft and the fight were over. Force “in the prevention of crime or in arresting offenders or suspects”, as per Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967, had gone some ways beyond reasonable. For this assault, having already ruled on an absolute discharge for the fight, Tokunbo handed out a pair of risible $300 fines.
The Bermudian teenagers may yet have a case to answer for instigating a night of violence that could have turned out so much worse for them. They should consider themselves rather fortunate.
Any blow to the head is potentially life-threatening. You only have to recall the sad story of Australian cricketer Philip Hughes, who died in November 2014 after being hit in the back of the neck by a slower-ball bouncer, to appreciate how vulnerable that area of the body is.
To sustain successive heavy blows there, and sometimes have your head held up for offer as if on a golf tee, can cause unimaginable damage.
This is what happened in Dockyard. The police know this, for it is they who made public that the footage circulating on social media would play a role in their investigations.
One can only conclude that the magistrate was kept out of the loop and was given only a verbal summary of events, for surely the Alexandres might have received a charge of grievous bodily harm to answer in the least.
Notwithstanding the culpability of the visitors — the rule of law should operate no differently had the original victims been Bermuda residents — the overarching issue here is of rampant domestic criminality and how socially maladjusted so many of our young people are.
Residents and visitors have been terrorised by drive-by thieves for most of the summer, which explains to some extent the lack of sympathy felt for Seaman and Hughes despite the gravely serious nature of their injuries.
This most recent incident highlights the need for a concerted police presence, ie, a station, in the areas that are most populated by tourists — Hamilton is covered, but for the West End, Dockyard is more suitable than Somerset Village and for the East End, the Town of St George should be preferred to Southside.
That is if we are intent on putting tourism first, as magistrate Tokunbo effectively did on Tuesday.
As far as recalibrating our moral compass is concerned, we still have a distance to travel.
There was little about the Dockyard incident that cast Bermuda in a favourable light: from the attempted theft itself, to the blasé attitude of the several bystanders as the unanswered blows rained in, to the determination of one of the concussed teenagers to finish what they had started — it had appeared nothing had been learnt — to the amateur videographer who seemed more intent on capturing the bloodlust for posterity than providing assistance if required.
So many failures, so little inspiration.
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