Local volunteer fire services in Abaco achieved a small, but significant victory as a North Abaco resident was charged with damaging and endangering property by the willful and negligent use of fire on April 14 in the Magistrates Court.
Treasure Cay’s Crash, Fire & Rescue Chief, Colin Albury, witnessed Jeffrey Cox setting fires in the bush in the area of Cabbage Point at Leisure Lee on Sunday, April 13. When he approached him Mr. Cox fled. Mr. Albury, with the assistance of police, arrested Mr. Cox and brought him before the court to be charged and remanded for setting fires.
Despite many dangerous and damaging forest fires set by humans in Abaco the culprits are rarely caught and almost never charged with their crimes.
The Magistrate read the charge that on Sunday April 13 at about 11:30am at Cabbage Point, Leisure Lee Mr. Cox did intentionally and unlawfully set fire to, damaging and endangering property by the willful and negligent use of fire. Mr. Cox, who is believed to be mentally challenged, responded incoherently in the end saying that the police locked him up in jail for something he didn’t do despite admitting he was using the fire to “make it look decent around a coconut tree.”
The plea of not guilty was entered and the Magistrate ruled that Mr. Cox should be remanded to Sandilands Rehabilitation Center and the court requested a psychological evaluation. The trial was adjourned to April 28.
Mr. Albury noted that this case is a small victory for fire services in Abaco who spend countless man-hours fighting forest fires set by irresponsible individuals. He said that there have been many times the culprit who set the fire was known yet no charges were brought to them for their offense.
Mr. Albury is hoping to see more individuals who set fires brought before the courts and charged and that people will get the message that setting bush fires is both dangerous and costly.