Attorney Grant Connell thinks that over the years the Court was wrong in not applying suspended sentences in cases of firearm or ammunition offenses.
Connell made the point at the Serious Offences Court on Wednesday while mitigating on behalf of 18-year-old Jermaine Andrews of Cane Garden/Barrouallie, who pleaded guilty to possession of a .9 mm pistol and 24 rounds of .9 mm ammunition without licenses.
Connell said that the Firearms Act only states the penalty of imprisonment and, or a fine for the offense, and therefore the Court had not been applying suspended sentences for firearm and/or ammunition possession.
Connell drew the Court’s attention to Section 30 (2) (b) of the Criminal Code which states that the provisions of Section 30 (1) which deals with the application of suspended sentences, shall not apply where, ‘a person at the time of Commission of the offense was an illegal possession of a firearm’.
Connell told the Court that the drafters of this legislation must have made provisions for situations in which persons like Andrews found themselves.
The lawyer said that it rebuts commonsense that a person who is charged with manslaughter, where a life is lost, could receive a suspended sentence, in certain circumstances, but the same is not applied in cases of a firearm and/or ammunition possession.
“All the time we were not applying suspended sentences for gun and/or ammunition possession, we were wrong. Suspended sentences could be applied.” Connell said.
He noted that all the mitigating factors, in this case, are in his client’s favour. “He (Andrews) expressed genuine remorse, had no previous convictions, cooperated with the police and is relatively young, so why jail him?” Connell argued.
Connell asked the Court to impose a suspended sentence or a fine.
Andrews had pleaded not guilty to both charges when he first appeared at the Serious Offences Court on January 18, but changed his pleas to guilty when he returned to Court on Wednesday, January 25.
Prosecutor Renrick Cato did not agree with Connell that section 30 of the Criminal Code was applicable.
Connell had also asked the Code to consider Section 37 of the Criminal Code which makes provision for a person to be discharged without punishment. But the Prosecutor disagreed, and asked the Court to impose a sentence that will send a strong message to offenders, and would-be offenders.
Andres will be sentenced on February 1.
Source : The Vincentian