The criminal must have his just deserts

Have we come to the point, regrettably, where we must be wary at night of venturing into Baxter’s Road –– the City street that never sleeps? Will the police now be forced keep a closer eye on the street, and all those who congregate there, seeking out the suspicious among us?

The reason? The deeply injurious violence inflicted on Tuesday night upon Colin Forde, proprietor of Colin’s Sports Bar & Lounge, by a gang of gun-toting robbers? The 55-year-old businessman would succumb to the bullet wounds to his foot and upper body hours later at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Colin Forde succumbed to gunshot wounds last night at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Colin Forde

The gunmen made good their escape –– temporarily, we would imagine –– across the pasture off Passage Road. A law-abiding public will help the police in the information and identification they seek, we trust.

We have not been unfamiliar with the occasional harm to the person by stones, knives and other sharp-edged tools over the years; but the fashionable state of affairs of gun blasting for personal coveted gain is anathema to most of us Barbadian citizens.

Naturally, the family, close friends and neighbours of Mr Forde were distressed by his shooting; some as well angered by the quite illegal and highly lawless act. The tragedy even evoked calls for the reintroduction of capital punishment for such gun-related crime.

Acts of lawlessness and criminality of this kind do demand one’s just deserts; but this will not be without public debate on the “merits and demerits” of the hanging, for example, of murderers. And, the Europe-esque imagery of capital punishment as barbarism, well touted in these parts by those who wish to be seen as modern-thinking and being with it, will be a certain hurdle.

We may have to settle for growing accustomed to greater police intervention in Baxter’s Road, where duplicates of Big Brother Copper with the big gun on his hip patrol the street that might after all become drowsy.

Night patrons of Baxter’s Road might even have to be drilled for gun attacks –– much like how we are trained to take precaution with a fire, earthquake or a rolling tsunami.

Thankfully, and gratefully, we have no chronicles of, or experience in mass murders. The gunning down or slaughter of multitudes in public is unheard of –– and, oh, that shall remain so! And it is for this very reason the odd murders by the gun we are averse to –– which speaks to the overall temperance of Barbadian nature and the national shock we go into when we learn of one killing one another.

Squabbles and fights there may be, with making up coming soon in their wake; but the undisguised evil of pumping bullets in another over chicken, a neck chain and cash has never gelled with us –– and we aver never will!

The grief of the family and loved ones of the victim is almost certainly beyond words; the helplessness, shame, discomposure and dilemma of the killer’s own family –– if there be any –– not without notice. In the face of such tragedy, we can’t help but ask: why?

Such is where the barbarity really lies; not making the killer forfeit his own life for that of another he deliberately and grimly takes. We do our youth especially great wrong when we send them mixed signals on discipline and taking responsibility for their deeds and actions.

Our young must not be left to believe murder will carry the same punishment as shoplifting or being in possession of a one spliff; or that bail on a charge of homicide is as easily acquired as that for slander.

It must be pointed out to our youth too that having a criminal record –– particularly a serious one –– is an obstruction to securing a job. As much as we may philosophize about former prisoners deserving a second chance, and even a third, the reception of ex-convicts into the general workplace cannot be automatic.

Worse yet, they ought not to be sold the concept it is their right.

People jailed for theft, robbery and more violent acts, and released after incarceration and hopefully rehabilitation still have to win prospective employers’ confidence and trust, which does not happen on “say so”. These employers also have to be satisfied their current employees will be comfortable themselves with the new addition to the staff.

Life after crime will never be any guaranteed bed of roses –– certainly not in the domain of law-abiding citizens, who themselves resist every temptation to commit crime even when it might benefit them and they could possibly get away with it.

We accept in principle that offenders who have truly mended their ways ought to be given a second chance, but they must understand the road ahead will not be easy. The onus will be on the deemed rehabilitated to prove their worth and trust. And it will not be a cakewalk.

No way as simple as pulling that illegal gun!

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