BELIZE CITY, Mon. July 27, 2015–A police constable who was found guilty of one count of theft was sentenced to three months in prison this morning after Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith heard a mitigation plea from his attorney and he expressed remorse to the victim and apologized for “embarrassing the Police Department” with his unbecoming conduct.
Attorney Leroy Banner, who represented PC Dean Perez, 27, who was found guilty of the theft of a cell phone and $600 when his case concluded last Thursday, expressed the view that a non-custodial sentence would better suit the circumstances of his client, who is the sole breadwinner for his family.
Banner told Chief Magistrate Smith that Perez has no previous conviction and has spent the last 9 years serving in the Police Department.
“In terms of Perez’s character, he has never before been to court in all his life. He has never been arrested and charged for anything,” Banner emphasized. He asked Smith to be lenient with the sentence she was about to impose.
Perez then took the witness stand and told the court, “Your Honor, I am sorry for what I have done and I beg for your leniency.”
“All I can say to the victims is that I am sorry,” Perez told the court.
After Perez had spoken on his own behalf, the Chief Magistrate asked Banner to address her on why a custodial sentence was not suitable.
Banner told the court that Perez is a police officer and going to prison would raise other issues and that a fine would be a more appropriate sentence.
“I look at this offense in a very serious light,” Smith said.
“He is a police officer and what he did is despicable. I have to send a message to society that police officers are not going to be given a slap on the wrist. I have to send this young man to prison,” she said, as she ordered him to his feet.
“I sentence you to three months in prison,” Smith told the convicted cop.
The incident for which Perez was convicted occurred when he was stationed in San Pedro last year. On October 5, Perez went to execute a committal warrant at the home of Jose Hernandez, who lives with his common-law wife Esmeralda Pat.
Perez was dressed in his police uniform and had a waiting police vehicle in which he was to take Hernandez away.
Perez, however, not only apprehended Hernandez. He stole a cellphone that was in the couple’s bedroom and snatched an identification folder from out of Pat’s hand. The identification folder contained $600 that Perez took for himself.
He was arrested, charged and placed on interdiction about two weeks after Hernandez reported the incident to police.
Outside the courtroom, Banner told Amandala that he will definitely appeal the Chief Magistrate’s decision. He said, however, that he could perhaps come to terms with the three-month sentence, which his client would probably finish serving by the time the appeal came up.
Banner said that he is appealing the Chief Magistrate’s guilty verdict because there were a lot of inconsistencies in the Crown’s case and that based upon those, his client should not have been convicted.