Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Senior Magistrate, Tamia Richards has questioned the decision by the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force to detain a man believed to be mentally ill for several days before he was brought to the court.
Marvin Gumbs reportedly broke the hand of an Inspector of Police who tried to stop him from being a nuisance at Bobby´s Supermarket last month.
He was arraigned before the Senior Magistrate today, March 6 for unlawful wounding. Gumbs changed his plea twice. He first stated "not guilty", but then as he sat down he shouted "guilty then guilty" to the Magistrate.
As a result, Magistrate Richards asked Gumbs to stand and she explained the difference between the two pleas to him. Following the explanation, Gumbs then stated, "Not guilty! Not guilty your honour!"
Principal Crown Counsel Tiffany Scatliffe stated that on February 18 at about 1:30 p.m. Gumbs went into Bobby´s supermarket in Road Town and was reportedly wearing no shirt, no shoes and only a pair of khaki pants.
A cashier made a report to 'Inspector Jackson' who was in the supermarket in uniform.
It was stated that the cashier had reasons to get the Inspector, because she observed Gumbs running up and down the aisles removing items from the shelves and disturbing customers.
When the Inspector confronted the defendant he took off running down the aisles. The Inspector called to the defendant in an attempt to make him stop, but Gumbs allegedly continued to run around the supermarket.
It was stated that the Inspector eventually caught the defendant, but when the accused saw the Inspector close he picked up a large bottle of Presidente beer from off the shelves.
He then raised it and charged towards the Inspector yelling: "I tried tell you stop [expletive] me up."
When the Inspector saw the defendant charging, he allegedly used his hand to block the blow. As a result the defendant broke the bottle on the hand of the Inspector and then ran out of the Supermarket.
The Inspector made a report to the Road Town Police Station and a Sergeant responded. The Sergeant met the defendant in the vicinity of First Bank on the same day at around 3:45 p.m. The accused was informed of the report that was made against him and he did not reply.
A medical examination form for Inspector Jackson disclosed that the Inspector´s hand was broken in the area of the fingers.
According to court records, the report stated that the hand was bandaged and cast; and would be of no use to the Inspector for three to four weeks.
The Officers later contacted Mental Health and were informed that Gumbs had been one of their patients recently. The court heard that a Mental Health nurse told the officers that the defendant would be examined by Dr. June Samuels before any determination could be made.
Senior Magistrate Richards questioned why it took the police several days to get Gumbs before the court.
The Senior Magistrate stated: "Mr. Gumbs was unlawfully detained for 18 days. It is only to be for two days....I have been here every day since the 18th, and I don´t know... if he wasn´t given bail he should have been brought...The police can grant bail and if not take the person to court, but the decision to remand is mine."
"It is really unfortunate, and it appears that this is the new trend," the Magistrate stated as she recalled that someone came before her in January claiming that he was detained for almost a month, and like the present defendant is also a person of no fixed abode.
Magistrate Richards said, "Mr. Gumbs has no less right because he is of no fixed abode. Whoever was detaining him; it was unlawful. He has no different right than those who may live in mansions on the hills. The same right that is extended to Dr. Smith and Tamia Richards or any other person is the same for persons of no fixed abode...Mr. Gumbs you may wish to talk to a lawyer about your detention."
Principal Crown Counsel Scatliffe told the Magistrate that she was also concerned that the matter was only now coming before the court.
She further told the court that it is unacceptable.
Meanwhile, the Crown announced that they were against the defendant being granted bail, because there is another serious complaint against him. Scatliffe also stated that she was informed that the police did make attempt to find someone to bail the defendant, but it was stated that the person who the accused identified refused to bail him.
The Senior Magistrate said that she needed to consider the defendant´s mental health in order to consider bail as an option. She also recalled that the defendant has a history at the Prison and stated that alternative arrangements will have to be made in order to facilitate his remand.
In this regard, Prosecutor Scatliffe explained that the Commissioner of Police might have to write to His Excellency Boyd McCleary so that the Governor can authorise that Gumbs be remanded to one of the police stations.
Magistrate Richards stated that the case is an appropriate one for someone to be appointed through legal aid as defence counsel.
Gumbs told the court that he is now "a Muslim" and asked not to be remanded to the prison because the other prisoners harass him and he finds the environment to be too congested.
"I just want to practice my Muslim religion...I usually wear a hat and a long robe till down...Every time I am in trouble Mental Health comes to the police station and inject me...they never tell me what I have; they just give me an injection to cool down my temper. I am not a crazy person...It is not that I can´t remember myself or anything," Gumbs explained.
The defendant told the court that he will stay away from Bobby´s and Riteway supermarkets as well as other businesses and will ask a friend to purchase items he may need.
He said that he no longer uses drugs and that he earns a living washing cars. Gumbs stated that he wants a chance to be allowed to continue to wash vehicles and save his money.