Of the two remaining cases before the local Courts regarding the stolen cache of weapons and ammunitions that went missing from the Georgetown Police Station earlier this year, another one of them is now at its judicial conclusion.
On Friday August 27, Magistrate Bertie Pompey ordered 26-year-old Meshach Dublin to be remanded into custody, so he could contemplate, over the weekend, the appropriate prison sentence to be meted out for his illegal gun handling transgressions. On Monday August 30, Dublin learnt he would spend the next 29 months of his life in jail.
The self-employed, Diamonds Village resident originally entered a guilty plea when he was first arraigned on June 21. By July 13, armed with Jomo Thomas as he new counsel, Dublin rescinded his guilty plea and opted to take his chances in open Court.
At that hearing Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne recused herself since, having heard the facts in co-accused Ave King’s case, she became privy to details that may have had some bearing on Dublin’s potential trial.
Of the 9 charges that were brought against Dublin, along with former police constable Zackerie Latham and Ave King when they initially appeared before the Serious Offences Court, only 3 of them remained when he took to the defendant’s stand in Mespo and again changed his plea.
Magistrate Pompey charged that Dublin was in illegal possession of 3 firearms including 2 Glock .22 pistols and a prohibited M4 rifle.
Pompey, a former Deputy Police Commissioner, informed the Court of his intentions to recuse himself from the proceedings when Dublin first strode to the dock.
“Before anybody make any application; I am going to recuse myself from this matter as I did with the other one,” Magistrate Pompey said, as he conveyed the September 13 adjournment date.
One day prior, Pompey informed the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court that he was no longer interested in presiding over the Zackerie Latham trial. The learned magistrate initially refused to recuse himself when the case was first transferred to his jurisdiction and Grant Connell, Latham’s counsel, made that same application. Latham’s trial was also given a September 13, date and is expected to be heard by Magistrate Zoila Ellis-Browne in Calliaqua.
Jomo Thomas urged the learned magistrate to read the curtailed charges after which he proceeded to mitigate on behalf of his client with some assistance from Dublin’s former defence attorney, Grant Connell.
Thomas reminded the judge that his client had indicated, at the last appearance in Georgetown, his intention to pursue “a particular course of action.” This, evidently, meant negotiating with the Director of Public Prosecution’s office to guarantee a guilty plea for the 3 counts on which Dublin was eventually sentenced in exchange for having the other 6 ‘lesser charges’ withdrawn.
The learned magistrate informed the Court that he was not prepared to pass judgement that day since he was already predisposed to his recusal. As such he stood the matter down to ready himself but eventually opted to withhold judgment until after the weekend.
When Thomas appeared in Georgetown on Monday he again beseeched the judge to take another look at the case law that was brought to his, Thomas’, attention by counsel Connell on Friday.
“You may recall in my presentation last week in Mespo, I supplied the Court with a case. That case being Randy Shallow and Friekesha Douglas vs the Commissioner of Police – a Court of Appeal case from 2019.
“In that case, this was after a full trial, the Court of Appeal reduced the sentence of a prohibited weapon to 4 years taking into consideration a number of things including the fact that the second person was not fully involved with the enterprise, that that person was a youthful offender and in this case, as I outlined, there was an issue of coercion.”
Thomas also reiterated his submission that the level of consequences: “must fall in the lower category… then we’re talking within a 35 – 40% range. So I just wanted to bring those two points to the attention of the Court.
“I know the Court would have heard the submission last time but have not a had chance yet to read the Court of Appeal decision which was presided over by the Chief Justice [Dame Janice] Pereira.
“So I just wanted to bring those two points to the Court and to re-emphasize the fact that Meschach Dublin was not part of the – he was not at the police station, he did not transport any weapons from the police station and he only became involved with this because of his association with Ave King….
“I don’t want to go there but Ave King has already been sentenced to 2 years and 8 months and he was the principal and in this case as well we know that Meschach Dublin – I heard the prosecutor speaking extensively about Ave King’s cooperation certainly there was also cooperation on the part of Mr. Dublin; fundamental cooperation that led the police to the prohibited weapon….
“There was cooperation all along but I think the added ingredient in Mr. Dublin’s favor is that he alluded to and as I mentioned when I spoke to Mr. Ave King at the prison, Ave King admitted that there might have been intimidation and coercion on his part in terms of getting Meshach involved….
“Because in the main – I shouldn’t restrain myself – in the main I think it would be a travesty, almost begging for an appeal, if the principal person in a criminal enterprise gets a lower sentence than somebody who’s tangential to them,” Thomas summed up.
Magistrate Pompey did not quite agree with Thomas’ starting point range in his calculations of the optimal length of time to jail Dublin.
“In order to arrive at a starting point for sentencing, I must take into account the consequences and seriousness of the offence,” Pompey said.
“Because one of the firearms in fact was an assault rifle, the defendant is placed in the highest consequence: Category 1.
“And because there was no more than one [such] firearm involved puts the defendant at Medium said seriousness. It could have gone to the Level A seriousness because there’s more than one firearm involved but I put him at – and you’d see why at the end,” the magistrate said.
He further explained that “the Court adapted a starting point for sentencing by referencing the grid containing the sentencing guidelines for firearm offences. In accordance with the grid, the Court determined that the appropriate starting point would fall at 65% of the maximum statutory penalty.
“Therefore, the starting point that is adapted by the Court is 4 years 6 months with a range of 3 years to 5.6 years.
“The following aggravating factors of the offender was identified as the concealment of the weapon. That’s the aggravation against him.
“The aggravating factors of the offence: 1) one of the firearms is a high-powered weapon; 2) the prevalence of firearms and firearm offences in the community.
“That’s the 3 aggravating actors I have. One against the defendant and 2 for the offences.
“The mitigating factors of the defendant are: he has no previous convictions, he has shown remorse for his actions, the defendant is a young person, the defendant is a promising athlete – I think that was highlighted in Mespo he did some event; I think somebody mentioned that?
“Added to that he cooperated with the authorities and there was intimidation by one of the co-defendants.
“There is no mitigating factor in relation to the offence, this mitigating factor is in relation to him, the offender.
“The mitigating factors outweigh the aggravating factors. One year is deducted from the notational term of 4 years and six months. Leaving a period of 3 years and 6 months.”
After the mathematical calculations accounted for the one third discount that was awarded because of Dublin’s guilty plea as well as the 29 days, rounded up to a full month, that was spent on remand, Magistrate Pompey imposed the prison sentence.
2 years and five months for the illegal possession of a prohibited weapon and 2 years each for the Glock pistols. The sentences are set to run concurrently.