Ex-cop jailed for 6 months
(CNS): A former RCIPS officer was sent to prison Friday for six months by a Grand Court judge following his conviction by a jury in June this year for wounding. Rabe Welcome (38) was found to have used “excessive force” during an arrest in the early hours of the morning at a George Town gas station while off duty in June 2009. Welcome broke an arm and caused other injuries to Adolphus Myrie during the incident, which the judge said had crossed the line. Despite several mitigating factors, Justice Alex Henderson pointed to the need in this case to deter police officers from using excessive force and to send a message that such abuse of power would not be tolerated.
The judge said that although Welcome had no previous convictions or disciplinary violations, had good character references and that he had a low risk of re-offending, given the circumstances, he felt a custodial sentence was necessary and he handed down the six month term.
Welcome was arrested following the incident and suspended from duty for some three years until his trial this summer. After his conviction he was dismissed from the service.
The incident was caught on CCTV, and although there was a degree of provocation as Myrie had threatened Welcome and two other off duty officers with a machete, at the time Welcome beat Myrie he was unarmed.
The altercation had started among the men when Welcome insulted Myrie’s girlfriend and, the court found, Myrie had then over-reacted with his threats towards the off-duty officers.
The judge said that Welcome had a right to make an arrest as Myrie had committed at least two offences, but once the victim had been persuaded to put down the machete there was no longer a need for Welcome to defend himself. Justice Henderson found that when the assault took place Myrie did not not pose a threat to the off-duty officer, who was also physically much bigger than him.
Speaking for his client during the sentencing hearing, defence attorney Ben Tonner had asked the judge not to impose a custodial sentence but to consider a community based sentence and a compensation order as he noted that, along with the mitigating factors, a prison sentence for a former police officer would be even harder as he could be serving alongside people he had arrested.
However, because of what the judge described as the “unusual circumstances of the case” and the need to send an important message to other police officers, Justice Henderson said a custodial sentence was required.
Welcome was a serving police officer at the time who had sworn to uphold the law and was therefore on duty 24 hours a day. While he did not pose a threat to the community, using such excessive force when making the arrest was a misuse of the power of his office and there was a general need to deter such use of force by others in future.
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