A former police messenger awaits sentencing for looting an electronics store in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Shamoi Dagou entered Infinite Solutions and stole a 32-inch flat-screen television worth nearly $250 on Sept. 8, 2017, directly following the hurricane, according to Crown Counsel Tamara Foster.
The store manager subsequently reported $315 cash and 90 percent of the store’s inventory, valued at $56,000, missing.
Ms. Foster said that Mr. Dagou, who was a messenger attached to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, was “essentially part of a larger group of looters in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.”
According to the Crown, Deputy Police Commissioner Alwin James was part of a patrol unit that stopped a bus where Mr. Dagou was seated in the front passenger seat shortly after the looting took place.
When he asked the defendant where he got the TV, Mr. Dagou allegedly responded, “Boy, James, I see them taking these thing and I took them.”
The serial number on the TV box matched one listed in the Infinite Solutions inventory, according to prosecutors.
During the sentencing hearing on Monday, Ms. Foster described the context of the burglary, saying that the “devastation on the island was wide- spread and civilians were confused.”
She added, however, that the defendant’s actions “exacerbated the already crippling effects of the hurricane.”
“A strong message needs to be sent: In natural disasters, citizens must seek to contribute … rather than seek personal gain,” Ms. Foster urged the judge.
Because Mr. Dagou is 26 and a first-time offender, Ms. Foster argued that he would be a prime candidate for rehabilitation. Mitigating factors, she said, include his early guilty plea, his lack of previous convictions, and his cooperation with the police.
She also argued that the value of the item was low enough that the judge should seek to give Mr. Dagou a lesser sentence such as one that would be given in Magistrates’ Court.
However, Ms. Foster also argued that in light of the defendant’s role in the police force, he should be held to a higher standard. She added that the item he stole was not a necessity. Additionally, the victims of the burglary suffered emotional, physical and psychological damage, she said.
Defence attorney Michael Maduro challenged Ms. Foster to prove the one aggravating factor that the Crown presented: prevalence of the crime.
“There is no evidence that burglary is prevalent in this jurisdiction,” he said. “[Ms. Foster] needs statistical and empirical data.”
He added that the data should also reflect the specific form of burglary that is allegedly prevalent within the territory.
Mr. Maduro also asked the judge to bear in mind that the defendant expressed remorse in his interview with the police, when he admitted to the crime.
“Did he take any physical actions to demonstrate remorse?” Ms. Smith asked. “Such as returning the television or compensating the store owners?”
Mr. Maduro responded in the negative. The sentencing is scheduled for July 12.