Two teens ‘scared straight’ after being found with weapons near YMCA sports complex

The youths spent a week behind bars
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By Latrishka Thomas

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Two teenagers who were sent to His Majesty’s Prison (HMP) for a week after telling the court unbelievable stories, returned to St John’s Magistrate’s Court yesterday having learned valuable lessons.

Kenzia Cochrane of Gray’s Farm and Jaheim Christopher of Golden Grove — both 19 years old — were among several youngsters who were recently found loitering at the YMCA sports complex in what reports suggest was gang-related activity.

On the afternoon of February 3, police officers were on mobile patrol when they received an anonymous call concerning a group of boys walking into the YMCA dressed in hoodies and brandishing sharp weapons.

Officers responded to the call and found a group of young people — most of whom were students — congregating on both sides of Stapleton Lane.

The cops became suspicious after they saw Christopher dressed in blue jeans and a white hoodie. One of the officers exited the police pickup and approached the suspect, but he started to walk away. He was ordered to stop but he decided to run instead.

The officer jumped back into the vehicle and chased after him, apprehending him near the Antigua Public Utilities Authority’s headquarters on Independence Avenue.

When the police searched Christopher’s person, they found a cutlass at his waist.

They arrested him and returned to the sports complex where they saw Cochrane walking briskly in a westerly direction.

A long knife was found on his person when he was captured near the Deluxe Cinema building on High Street.

The duo was taken to the St John’s Police Station where they were each charged with carrying an offensive weapon with the intention to commit a felonious act.

Last week, Cochrane told Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh that he had the knife as he had planned to cut his hair; he said he had seen his 14-year-old cousin with a knife in his bag and taken it from him.

Christopher then told the court that he had a cutlass for his part-time job in landscaping and was waiting for Cochrane at the time that he was spotted by the police.

Both men, however, claimed that they were not at the YMCA.

The magistrate did not believe the teens and therefore remanded them to HMP until yesterday, to give them time to come up with better stories.

This time around, when asked again why they were carrying weapons, Cochrane said: “I really had the knife to protect myself.”

Christopher said that the cutlass he had in his possession was in fact for landscaping, but he realised where he went wrong.

The magistrate scrutinised his story and said she believed that he tied the weapon to his waist so that it wouldn’t fall while he was running.

He did not deny that.

The youngsters also shared that their time behind bars “wasn’t pleasant”.

Chief Magistrate Walsh then warned both of them sternly and told them to inform their friends that “if they get caught with weapons, I will send them to jail”.

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