Former PR officer at Justice Ministry sentenced for burglary

POSTED: 08/23/12 1:34 PM

St. Maarten – Judge M. Tamara Tijhuis sentenced a former public relations employee at the Justice Ministry to 8 months imprisonment with 2 years of probation yesterday for a burglary at the Sunset Beach Bar in June of last year. Of the sentence, 6 months are conditional.

Janine Jenneffer Wijman, who once famously signed a press release from the Justice Ministry with Blondie – a reference to her bleached hair – was not in court to stand trial yesterday. The 28-year old is according to her attorney, Zylena Bary “probably” back in the Netherlands.

Wijman lived with Marina Serrant, the driver of Justice Minister Roland Duncan. Wijman got into an argument with her landlady, accusing her that she has caused her dismissal, whereupon Serrant kicked her out of her house.

On June 26 of last year, Serrant’s house in Happy Estate was burglarized. The thieves took off with $300 in cash, bank cards, and a DVD-player. Shortly afterwards a woman attempted to withdraw money with the stolen bank card from the WIB ATM on Illidge Road. a police officer who knew Wijman said in his police report that he had recognized her from the video footage.

During a subsequent burglary at the Sunset Beach Bar in Maho Wijman and an unknown male accomplice stole bottles of alcohol and some cash.

Confronted with the video footage from the ATM, Wijman later told investigators:” Because she looks like me does not mean that I am that woman.”

Prosecutor Georges van den Eshof asked the court to acquit Wijman of the burglary at Serrant’s house. “The burglary took place between a quarter past midnight and 5.30 a.m., and a woman was seen pinning with the bank card at 4 a.m. I cannot exclude that somebody else committed the burglary,” he said.

mr. Van den Eshof considered pinning with the stolen bank card proven, and he also found proof for the burglary at the Sunset Beach Bar.

“She has a friend who is addicted to cocaine and crack, and she did not want to go back to the Netherlands because her family has a certain religious conviction,” he said, before demanding and 18 month prison sentence.

Attorney Bary told the court that the video footage at the bank does not make clear that her client is the one attempting to withdraw money. “This is a case of revenge by Mrs. Serrant, the driver of the Justice Minister,” Bary said. “If her friend needs money for crack it does not mean that Ms. Wijman has done this.”

mr. Bary said that there are rumors that Wijman is in the Netherlands. “Therefore I do not see what the reward is for the community to give her an 18-month prison sentence. It is disproportional. Give her a suspended sentence, than she has something hanging over her head in case she comes back.”

Together with the prosecutor and Judge Tijhuis, mr. Bary studies the video footage in court.

Based on these images, Judge Tamara Tijhuis acquitted Wijman of the burglary at Serrant’s house and of pinning with the stolen bank card. “The images of the face are unclear, so this evidence is not convincing,” the Judge said.

But mr. Tijhuis considered the burglary at the Sunset Beach Bar proven. “There are enough burglaries in St. Maarten and one day that has to stop,” she said, adding that Wijman seemed to have been reasonably under the influence of alcohol and drugs when she committed the crime. After her arrest she was sent to Turning Point for rehabilitation, but in the meantime Wijman has apparently left the island. She was arrested once before in 1999 for ill-treatment, but that case was dropped.

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