Beckles convicted of sacrilege

A 53-year-old man who last year appealed for a High Court pardon after admitting to sacrilege has been sentenced to ten years behind bars.

However, Roderick Willrow Beckles of no fixed place of abode will only have to serve four more years and 336 days in jail, after Madam Justice Michelle Weekes took several factors into account.

Last year, Beckles pleaded guilty to entering the St Peter’s Parish Church sometime between March 27 and 28, 2015, and stealing a tabernacle worth $15,000 and a communion cup worth $1,100.

A churchgoer saw Beckles covering an item with a cloth and putting it over his shoulder as he exited the churchyard. He was later identified in an identification parade and arrested.

Last December Beckles threw himself at the mercy of the judge in the No.2 Supreme Court.

“Your Ladyship . . . I beg you to have leniency on me. Ma’am, I am begging you all to pardon me . . . for this thing that I have done to the church and I ask you all to give me a chance to go back to society . . . to turn a page in my life,” he said back then.

However the prosecutor, Crown Counsel Oliver Thomas said he saw “no justification for a suspended sentence as Beckles began his criminal career in 1983 and had years to turn his life around”.

The accused man has a total of 24 convictions, including five for sacrilege and eight counts of burglary.

Pointing out that the maximum sentence for sacrilege was life in prison, Justice Weekes told Beckles he had stolen an item from the church that was centuries old and high in value.

However, the judge took into account Beckles’ early guilty plea, as well as other mitigating factors in discounting three years from his ten year sentence. Beckles was also given full credit for the two years and 29 days he had already spent on remand leaving him with four years and 336 days more behind bars at HMP Dodds.

“The court also makes an order that you receive drug rehabilitation treatment and that you continue to receive psychiatric treatment,” Weekes ruled.

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