BELIZE CITY–A Belize City former gang member, who was arrested for displaying gang insignia tattoos in public, told Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer this morning that he has given up the gang-life for more than ten years and that he reads his Bible and prays every day.
Ian Westby, 33, attempted to “plead guilty with an explanation” after the Senior Magistrate read to him the single charge of “displaying gang insignia” on Thursday, December 4, on Casuarina Street.
Westby, who is unemployed and is a resident of Casuarina Street, told the court that he has given up being in gangs since 2003, when he became a church member.
“From the time they killed my home boy, I gave up the gang life.” Westby told the court.
“I hang out, smoke and thing, but I nuh gang-bang,” Westby continued, and further explained, “I joined church and read the Bible every day.”
Westby said that the “30” tattoos and the “WS” tattoos for which police have charged him have been on his arm since he was in primary school.
After Frazer had listened to his explanation, she entered an equivocal not guilty plea on his behalf, saying, “Mek dis PC Cruz come and tell me how he mi di read your mind.”
Fortunately for Westby, the section of the law under which he has been charged, allows for the Magistrate to offer him bail. There is another section of the law that covers the same offense that carries an automatic 90-day remand, unless persons charged can afford an attorney to obtain Supreme Court bail.
A check of the court records, however, revealed that Westby had an outstanding fine for a drug possession case that he had not paid since June 2009, when he was fined $205.
“You see how da one tattoo di haunt you today?” Frazer told Westby, as she considered offering him bail.
Westby was offered bail in the sum of $600 plus one surety, and his case was adjourned to February 6, 2015.
Frazer told him that by the time he returns to court next year, the outstanding court fine must be paid.
Westby’s brush with the law came about yesterday, Thursday, when police were on patrol in his neighborhood and PC Cruz observed that Westby had two tattoos on his arms.