When the Kingstown based Serious Offences Court reconvenes on Friday April 30, 21 years old Kelike Browne would be told of the Court’s decision regarding the outcome of the 5 gun related charges to which he pled guilty.
The Glen man was arrested and charged on Monday April 26 after a party of Rapid Response Unit officers, led by Corporal 615 Williams, conducted a search of minivan HW 295 and found him attempting to conceal a Nike satchel.
When his trial got underway last Wednesday, the Court heard that Browne consented to be searched and when nothing untoward was found on his person the officers turned their attention to the bag he was just seen pushing under the seat in front of him.
According to Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche; Corporal Williams – in the presence of another officer and young Browne – searched the bag which they had ascertained belong to him, and she found “two metallic objects resembling firearms….
“The Corporal then took out one of the firearms and examined it in the presence of PC Jack by removing the magazine. And she noticed the firearm was loaded with one in the breach.”
Some 16 rounds of ammunition were recovered from that weapon which later turned out to be a 9 mm pistol of German make – serial number intact.
The second pistol, “a .45 Taurus revolver,” held 5 rounds in the barrel – “3 rounds of 10 mm ammunition and 2 rounds of .45 mm ammunition,” Delplesche said.
The senior prosecutor commended Corporal Williams for immediately going to Browne’s home in search of further contraband.
“They proceeded to the defendant’s home your Honor having found these firearms and ammunition; the Corporal proceeded to the home and acted within the law – professionally.
“And so she did not need a warrant there; again brilliant work – reasonable grounds to suspect he may have at home; the firearm act provides for that… nothing was found there your Honor.”
In the course of due diligence a finger print and forensics analysis of the guns was conducted, the firearm registry was checked which did not list the defendant as a licensed gun owner and the exhibits were examined by a local police ballistics expert who certified “the firearms to be functional and the ammunition live.”
In his defense, the Court learnt that Browne is a law abiding citizen who has had no previous contact with the legal system.
The youngster, defense attorney Charmine Walters told the Court, was on the road to a full-fledged Christian conversion with her congregation and has shown some “good traits” when he attended a church camp some time ago.
He was the product of a broken home and though he was the last of four children for both parents he has been one of the primary bread winners in his family since he was forced to leave school at Form 3. To that end he has been gainfully employed for the past seven years.
Walters pleaded with the Court for “a second chance” even as she categorized the young man’s decision to ferry the contraband “as stupid.” She pointed out: he is a first time offender, the very real likelihood that he would not reoffend and the level of his heartfelt remorse.
“I know this offence attracts a custodial sentence and given the circumstances of the case even if the Court is minded to give a custodial sentence. Mr. Brown … is asking for a short sentence even though that short sentence must commensurate with the offence that was committed but a short sentence that he can be back in society and not be derailed from providing for his family.”
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne disallowed the defendant’s request to address the Court, opting to err on the side of caution while being mindful of the expressed “security issue” that was alluded to earlier.
Before the Chief Magistrate could weigh in on the day’s proceedings, Delplesche rebutted.
He reminded the Court that “actions have consequences” particularly given what is happening in the Glen community and across St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“The last count I got in terms of the homicide/murder rate is 12 and we are only into 4 months of the year. That gives us an average of 3 per month; with a population of 110 000 that is serious and the majority of these, without knowing the statistics and from my general knowledge, the majority of these offences are firearm related and the victims are all young people.
“So it is in that context, your Honor, that I’m asking the Court; while you temper the sentence with mercy you also have to season it with what is the right thing because a message has to be sent and you cannot be weary of sending that message… we’re having too much gun related crimes in a little one by one country – not even two by two.
“And the young people must, must feel if they can’t hear. Weh yo want gun for?!”
Chief Magistrate Browne acknowledged the severity of the offenses before her and noted, “they carry, yes, custodial sentences. Fines may be attached to them but we are looking at some very serious fines at the moment.
“Interestingly when given the bag the defendant said he searched and realized it was firearms in there, what did you do then on seeing that? Did you make an about turn to carry it back or nothing was done?
“So these are the things that will weigh on my mind when I am coming up with the sentence in addition to the fact that yes he is young, yes he is not a previous offender, yes he has exhibited certain admirable traits for a young man with respect to his family and perhaps him positioning himself on a certain course but I also have to balance that and look at the facts and the real case before me of two loaded firearms and put all of that in the context of the sentencing guidelines which we have been directed to use.
“I would need a little time to ponder over the circumstances … to come up with an appropriate sentence that would be fitting for the offences so with that I’m going to remand you into custody….”