Legendary Jamaican dancehall musician Beenie Man was on Monday fined J$150,000 (USD 1000) by the St Elizabeth Parish Court after he pleaded guilty to flouting the Caribbean nation’s Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA). The self-proclaimed “King of dancehall” faces a 30-day prison sentence if he fails to pay the fine.
According to local news outlet Loop Jamaica, the Girls Dem Sugar singer’s prosecution and fine stems from a November 29 event he organized in the parish of St Elizabeth. The 47-year-old was initially let go with a warning for flouting the country’s COVID-19 protocols after authorities came to the venue to cancel the event. He was, however, later slapped with two charges in connection to the event after he reportedly went ahead to promote a party for New Year’s Eve in December. The second charge of breaching the Noise Abatement Act was dismissed when he appeared in court on April 19 to plead guilty to breaching the DRMA regulations.
“Beenie Man was fined $150,000 and the maximum fine at the time the offence was committed was $250,000, so we can live with that,” the musician’s lawyer, Roderick Gordon, told the news outlet after the court’s judgment.
During Monday’s proceedings, Gordon called on the judge to be lenient with the punishment as his client had organized the November 29 event to raise funds for a charitable cause, Jamaica Star reported.
“Mr Davis [Beenie Man] was supporting an event to raise funds with which to purchase tablets for needy children in the community, and when the police came, my client, like any other decent law-abiding citizen, like any other decent law-abiding citizen, introduced himself to the officers and pointed out that he was not having a session,” Gordon told the court.
Prior to handing out the judgment, Parish Court Judge Horace Mitchell made it clear the famous superstar isn’t immune from prosecution, telling him, “I hope when you leave this courtroom today you will let Jamaicans know that not even the King is above the law.”
Explaining why Beenie Man admitted to committing the offense after initially pleading not guilty, Gordon, on April 19, told Loop Jamaica he did so because “he wanted to take a responsible approach given that he is an elder of the global music community.”