Forgive us!

Three Colombians appearing before a local magistrate this morning appealed for leniency and forgiveness from both the court and people of Barbados.

Hames Asdrubal Mendoza Arevalo, a 35-year-old taxi driver, and 26-year-old students Bairon Valencio Lopez and David Mauricio Botero-Montes all pleaded guilty to a number of charges when they appeared in the District “A” Magistrates’ Court before Magistrate Douglas Frederick. The entire process took about one hour.

The accused were led into the courtroom handcuffed and shackled just after 10:30 a.m. and stood in the dock as their case was called 15 minutes later.

Lopez, was charged with having another person’s driver’s licence for use in connection with criminal deception. In an interpreted statement to the magistrate and the court, he asked the court for a pardon and offered apologies for “all the problems” he caused.

“I never intended to do anything bad. I never used the permit while I was in Barbados. I just forgot it in my passport holder when I came here,” he said.

Lopez further told the court that he was due back at school in Colombia where he was studying information technology, on February 17.

“I have children; my daughter is four and my son is three. I have a family . . . . I came here on holiday. I spent six days here and I was due to leave on the 6th of February. I am pleading for leniency,” he told the magistrate.

In handing down sentence, Frederick ordered a fine of $750 to be paid forthwith. He also ordered Lopez to be placed in the custody of Immigration officials for deportation.

Arevalo faced similar charges – having a false driver’s licence. However, the magistrate noted that his punishment would be a bit more severe since Arevalo had used the document to acquire the use of a vehicle from a local car company. He was fined $2,500, to be paid forthwith or two months’ imprisonment.

“I would like to ask for forgiveness from the court and people of Barbados . . . . I have a family and children in Colombia. [They] are waiting for me to come back home. I never meant to cause this problem I am truly sorry,” the taxi driver told the court, as he was handed over to Immigration officials.

Botero-Montes pleaded guilty to two charges, the first being possessing a visa card that was not his, for use in connection with criminal deception, and, secondly, loitering on the premises of Kathleen Gardner and suspected to be about to commit burglary.

In a passionate appeal, he said that all of what had occurred was as a result of  “getting really bad advice from people”.

“I know the [offences] are very serious and I have begun to think about it and all of the consequences of my actions . . . . I pledge not to [come this way] again. I am very ashamed and sorry for what I did,” Botero-Montes said.

In response, Magistrate Frederick handed down a fine of $2,500 on the first charge and for the second of loitering and being suspected to be about to commit burglary, he fined Botero-Montes $3,500, to be paid in one week or six months in prison, after which he was remanded to Her Majesty’s Prison at Dodds.

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