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Judge decries system after jailing recidivist

A judge renewed calls for better treatment for mentally ill offenders after he jailed a man for indecent exposure only three days after he was released from prison.Eric Richardson, 29, pleaded guilty to exposing himself to a woman in an incident on May 16.Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe sentenced Richardson to two months behind bars, but said the island had to do more for people with psychiatric problems during Thursday’s hearing.He added: “If we cannot assist persons like Mr Richardson, then that’s a sad indictment on us as a country that we cannot provide him with the services that he so desperately requires.”The court heard that the victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, went for a run with her husband at about 8.30am in the South Road area of Warwick, but both had taken different routes.The husband noticed Richardson at a bus lay-by near the junction with Camp Road.He said Richardson was catcalling and whistling at woman runners as they passed.The victim ran past the junction later and noticed Richardson with his hands at the waistband of his pants.He shouted at her and, when she turned to look, she saw that his pants were down.The victim crossed the street to avoid Richardson and ran to Chaplin Bay, where she called her husband and police.Her husband returned to the junction and confronted Richardson. The defendant walked away, but the man followed him to a house where Richardson was arrested by police.Magistrates’ Court had heard that Richardson suffered from schizophrenia and had a history of drug abuse.Simone Smith-Bean, who appeared for Richardson, said her client was in desperate need of assistance that was not available in Bermuda.She said: “We have been at this junction with Mr Richardson at least eight or nine times in the last two years.“Every time we knock our heads against the wall with the same issue.”Ms Smith-Bean said Richardson had been in and out of prison, where his problems were not tackled and released into circumstances where he was homeless.She said: “The way in which he lives his life is deplorable. “He is now down to only being able to reside on a porch when his mother allows him to sleep there and otherwise he is out on the street.“He needs to be in care. He needs to be in a facility that he can reside. He doesn’t need to be out on the street where drugs are available.”Ms Smith-Bean was concerned that Richardson might return to the court in a matter of days if he did not get treatment.She said: “I believe it’s going to be a serious blemish on Bermuda if we don’t face the facts that our must vulnerable need assistance.”Ms Smith-Bean said Richardson had been in custody since his arrest and asked for a sentence of two months with time served taken into account — which would mean he would be eligible for release this week.Mr Wolffe agreed and asked Richardson to go to the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute after release and for him to stay out of trouble.• 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.