Couple who brawled with police officers in Woods Mall convicted and fined more than $6,000

An incident that attracted public scrutiny, having been caught on video that then went viral, has resulted in the players being convicted, fined and ordered to pay compensation in the St. John’s Magistrates’ Court.

Jamaican national Chantel Sibilist, 24, and her partner, Jahwer Christopher, 35, are the rowdy couple who brawled with police officers in front of the Payless Store at Woods Mall on Saturday, May 7, 2022.  

On Monday, February 20, at the conclusion of their trial, they were found guilty of several charges by Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh.

Reports are that the trial commenced last Wednesday, February 15, with testimony from Christopher, who opted to give sworn evidence from the witness stand ,along with his spouse, who testified last Thursday.

Officers had charged the pair with several counts of battery on police, resisting arrest, and malicious damage, among other related offences, following the incident.  The duo had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The woman, who had more charges than her partner, will have to pay the lion’s share of the money the court has ordered them to pay. Sibilist must come up with a total of $4,070, while Christopher was ordered to pay $2,750.  They were given until the end of March to pay, although Christopher, who claims to be a subcontractor, had requested six months’ time.

The alternative sentence is six months at His Majesty’s Prison.

Sibilist, reports say, made an immediate payment of $1,000, while her partner is yet to make any payment.

Some of the money will be awarded as compensation to the officers, whose shirts, costing $150 and over $200, respectively, were damaged during the fracas.

During the trial, the Jamaican mother denied behaving badly in front of her children, who were seen crying in the video footage. She claimed they had been inside their parents’ car.

Sibilist accused the police of being impostors, even after they identified themselves, and said she was accustomed to frequenting Payless.

Christopher said that he frequents the business, as well, and added that – even though they identified themselves – he did not believe who the officers said they were; he believed they were security guards.

Sibilist has offered an apology to the officers, but her spouse has not done so. Chief Magistrate Walsh also offered an apology to the lawmen for the way they were treated in the execution of their lawful duty.

Reports are that the couple was refused entry into the store for not wearing face masks, which was a policy of the business place and was so indicated on a poster in front of the store.

Further reports are that they became confrontational with one of the workers, and the police had to be summoned. 

Reportedly efforts were made by the lawmen to bring the situation under control; however, both Sibilist and Christopher continued with their unruly behaviour and a brawl ensued between them and the officers, some of whom were in plain clothes and the others in uniform. 

They were eventually taken into custody and charged.