PHILIPSBURG–A man was found guilty by the Court of First Instance of having threatened the lives of French Gendarmes and of endangering road safety during a car chase in Cole Bay during the early morning rush hour of September 30, 2019. For these crimes, which also included destruction of a police vehicle and fencing of vehicle licence plates, the judge sentenced him to fifteen months, thirteen of which were suspended, on three years’ probation, and 100 hours of community service.
Defendant Delbert Jermaine Naar (43) was also ordered to pay compensation for the damaged police vehicle, the amount of which was set at 6,810 euros by the Court on Wednesday.
Naar, who was described by the judge as a “revolving-door criminal with an extensive criminal record,” is currently residing in Turning Point Rehabilitation Centre for treatment. In taking the suspect’s drug addiction into consideration, the judge found an “adequate, intensive and comprehensive” rehabilitation programme under Parole Board supervision warranted.
During the hearing, which took place on January 15, the Prosecutor considered the suspect guilty of all the charges, which included attempted manslaughter of French police officers.
The Prosecutor’s Office called for a prison sentence of 14 months, plus two months additional for violation of the Traffic Ordinance.
The Prosecutor also called on the Court to order the termination of the suspect’s treatment for addiction problems at Turning Point to facilitate his transfer to the Pointe Blanche prison.
Naar’s lawyer Shaira Bommel pleaded for her client’s acquittal of attempted manslaughter and the attempt to inflict severe bodily injury. The lawyer also pleaded for a milder sentence.
Coming from Dutch St. Maarten, the suspect, who was driving a grey Nissan Tiida, ran into trouble after trying to avoid a traffic control by the Gendarmerie on Bellevue Road in Marigot, around 7:15am September 30, 2019.
He was ordered to stop, but reversed his vehicle, turned his car and drove back toward Dutch St. Maarten. The Gendarmerie opened a pursuit, driving in a car with flashing lights and the siren blaring.
The three Gendarmes who filed complaints of attempted manslaughter with the Police Force St. Maarten KPSM stated that the driver was speeding and driving recklessly on Union Road, as well as on the sidewalk. Traffic was very busy, with many students on their way to school, the Gendarmes said.
Past the entrance to Sea Island Cotton Road, the suspect took a left turn and drove his vehicle onto open land where the car got stuck between two trees. However, the driver managed to free his car and drove toward the other side of the road. He suddenly reversed his vehicle, slamming it into the right side of a second police vehicle which had arrived on the scene in the meantime.
“The driver of the Nissan kept reversing on the road in the direction of Narrow Road. We kept pursuing the vehicle on foot. We saw the Nissan drive back in our direction. [Gendarme – Ed.] F. was nearest to the vehicle and had to jump aside to keep from being hit. The vehicle was then at a distance of five metres from [Gendarme] D. and he saw the vehicle coming in his direction at high speed.
“I turned around and ran away in the direction of the entrance to Narrow Road. I jumped onto the ground, while the vehicle slammed into a concrete column. This eventually brought the vehicle to a halt. After approximately five seconds the driver stepped out of the vehicle, put his hands in the air and stood against a wall,” the Gendarmes said. They waited for KPSM officers to arrive, who arrested the suspect.
The defendant told the police that he regretted the incident and said he never had the intention to drive his vehicle into the police officers. He said he had panicked to such an extent that he could not keep his foot off the accelerator.
Investigations revealed that the licence plates attached to the defendant’s Nissan belonged to a Kia Picanto which was reported stolen in French St. Martin in June 2018. The suspect claimed he had found the plates in the bushes in Sucker Garden.
In rendering the verdict, the judge said the Gendarmes had felt threatened, but he did not consider it proven that the defendant had attempted to take their lives or that he had had the intention to inflict severe injuries. The defendant was acquitted of these charges, also because it could not be ascertained at what exact speed the man had been driving, the judge said.
The Court did find it proven that the suspect had displayed very dangerous behaviour on the public road during the morning rush hour. “As a result, French police officers and other road users, including students, could have been hit,” the judge said.