“You have shown some level of remorse but your action amounted to an abuse of power…,” Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith told interdicted Police Constable Brandon Hertular, 27, on Tuesday at his sentencing hearing, before imposing fines amounting to $2,400 for his conviction on Monday on theft charges.
After a night in police lockdown, Hertular was brought back to the Magistrate’s Court in the police prison van for sentencing on Tuesday.
The Chief Magistrate imposed the fines after she heard a submission from Hertular’s attorney, Anthony Sylvestre, and mitigation pleas from members of Hertular’s family.
In his submission, Sylvestre told the court that his client was convicted only on the theft charges, because the prosecutor did not pursue the burglary charge with which he was initially charged.
Sylvestre also submitted that the prosecutor did not prove the value of the items Hertular was convicted of stealing.
Those who presented mitigation pleas on his behalf, including his mother, Anna Hertular, begged the court to show leniency on Hertular, who has served his country as both as a Belize Defence Force soldier and a police constable.
Hertular’s common-law wife, Michelle Smith, on the verge of tears, told the court that Hertular is a provider for his family and that they have a two-week-old baby. She begged Smith not to send him to prison.
Hertular’s brother-in-law, the musician Joseph Lawrence, said he has known him for four years and did not expect that he would be caught up in a situation like that of being convicted of theft.
In his own mitigation plea, Hertular told the court that he would like to raise his young daughter “to be a decent young lady”.
In a low voice and almost at a loss for words, Hertular said, “I’ve come to accept the decision of the court, but I would like to ask you if you can please grant me some kind of leniency…”
Before she imposed the fines, the Chief Magistrate told Hertular, “You show some level of remorse today, but your action amounted to an abuse of power. You were serving the Police Department and you were dressed in your uniform and you returned once again to the Chicas family on March 4 and stole their items.”
“I don’t know what motivated you to behave in that manner. It is not certain if you assisted the police in capturing your accomplice or you decided to not be a snitch, but you will have to pay some fines regardless,” the Chief Magistrate went on to say.
Hertular was convicted for stealing a number of items from three members of the Chicas family: Shirley, Alfonso and Santiago Chicas.
On March 4, 2012, he and another man entered, as a trespasser, Shirley Chicas’ home, located at #6112 Buttonwood Bay in Belize City, and stole a sling purse, a red LG cell phone valued at $125, a driver’s license, a social security card and $1,500, the property of Shirley Chicas.
Hertular was also charged with theft of a Samsung cellphone valued at $250, the property of Santiago Chicas, and also for stealing a black Glock 19mm pistol with serial number PYG 313, with a magazine containing 15 rounds, valued at $2,500, a black Apple iPhone cellphone, valued at $3,000, and $100 in cash, the property of Alfonso Chicas.
For the theft of the items from Alfonso Chicas, Hertular was fined $1,000 plus a $5.00 cost of court.
He was fined two $700 fines, a total of $1,400 for the items stolen from Shirley and Santiago Chicas.
Hertular has up to June 6, 2014, to pay all his fines; if he defaults, he will have to spend 6 months in prison for the $1,000 fine and 3 months each for the two $700 fines.
It is not clear, at this time, whether Hertular still has his job.