Homeless man needs care but gets prison sentence

POSTED: 04/7/11 11:42 AM

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance was at a loss when it came to sentencing Clinton Humphrey Hodge, a 34-year-local homeless man for beating another homeless man into the hospital with a piece of wood on December 23 of last year. In the end, Judge Mr. M. Keppels settled for a 238 days prison sentence, of which 180 days are suspended. She imposed 2 years of probation. “I do not see how else to handle this case either,” the Judge said.

Hodge was not in court and his attorney mr. S.R. Bommel had been unable to get in touch with him. In March, the case was postponed to allow time for a psychiatric evaluation. Bommel told the court that the psychiatrist, dr. Matroos, had informed her that he “was not planning to come to St. Maarten because Hodge is without a permanent address and that it would be difficult to get in touch with him.”

An older report about the defendant, from 2009, indicates that he is mentally and emotionally unstable, that he hears voices and that he is not able to resist them, especially when he is under the influence of alcohol. Hodge is, the report states, “in urgent need of psychiatric care.”

Prosecutor Mr. J.C.G. van der Wulp, who made her first appearance in criminal court yesterday, considered proven that Hodge had hit Dwayne Sherwood with a piece of wood. In March, Hodge assured the court that he had not done this on purpose, but to defend himself. “I did what I had to do, I hit him twice,” he said.

The prosecutor considers the defendant not fully accountable for his actions. “This has ended well, but it is important that he does not do these things again in the future,” she said.

Because there is no facility for psychiatric care in St. Maarten, Hodge’s only option is a place in the Capriles Clinic in Curacao, but the court did not sentence him to commit himself to that institution.


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