The handing over of an imitation firearm to the police just before the resumption of the matter and a sterling mitigation plea from his lawyer Grant Connell, may have saved Rupert Yearwood from a custodial sentence on Monday.
The 50-year-old farmer of Calder was on Monday bonded for one year and fined $3,000, after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm, or imitation firearm with intent to commit an offense, to wit wounding on Randy Lewis of Calder.
If Yearwood breaches the bond, he would have to pay the Court $2,500 forthwith, or go to prison for one year.
The fine is to be paid by March 31, or six months in prison.
Yearwood was initially charged jointly with his brother Silborne Yearwood, 27, also a farmer of Calder.
They had previously pleaded not guilty, and a trial commenced, with only one witness being called up to the time of the adjournment at the previous hearing. However, on the brothers’ return to court on Monday, Rupert changed his plea to guilty, while Silborne maintained his innocence, and the Prosecution withdrew the charge against him.
The charge had stemmed from an ongoing family dispute, resulting in an incident on October 8, 2022, in which Rupert pulled something from his waist, which looked like a firearm.
The complainant reported the matter to the police, investigations were carried out, several witness statements were taken and the brothers were interviewed.
However, nothing illegal was found on their persons, or at their home, and neither of them admitted to the offence, hence the reason why they were charged with possession of a forearm, or imitation forearm, with intent to commit an offence.
It was not until Monday, before the hearing was slated to resume, that Connell handed over a gun to the police, alleged to be the one used in the incident. It was checked by firearms expert Station Sergeant Julian Caine, who happened to be in court at the time, and it was confirmed to be an imitation firearm.
In mitigation, Connell told the court that the matter stemmed from an ongoing family dispute over lands, and on this occasion, the complainant tried to hit the brothers’ mother, and Rupert had the toy gun on him and faked the complainant.
“He (Rupert) is not a threat to society, they came on his property,” Connell said.
“Customs could be a little more rigid as to what toys they allow. I know they are very strict with sex toys,” he opined, evoking a slight chuckle from the audience.
“The old time toy gun had a red ring and used to make a noise, so maybe if he (Rupert) had one of those they might have charged him with discharge,” the lawyer added. He asked the court not to impose a custodial sentence under the circumstances.
Prosecutor Renrick Cato, in response, pointed out that the Firearms Act states that upon summary conviction, a person who uses a firearm or imitation firearm to commit an offence is liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years.
Cato noted that though it may have been an imitation firearm, it is the effect it had at the time on the other person.
“I am quite aware of the ongoing dispute between the parties, and that the defendant’s mother was involved, but I don’t like the way it was handled,” Cato said. He concluded though, that he was not objecting to a non-custodial sentence.
Scrutinizing the gun, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne said, “It looks just like a real firearm.” She told Yearwood that, “The circumstances here are serious, but you still need to think clearly before you act.”
As mitigating factors of the offence, she noted that the firearm was brandished, and as mitigating, was the fact that the firearm was surrendered.
As regard the aggravating factors of the offender, she noted that he had previous convictions, but highlighted the fact that he had shown remorse, and was protective of his younger brother. In relation to both the offence and the offender, the Magistrate concluded that mitigation and aggravating factors balanced out.
Yearwood was given the full one third discount for his guilty plea.
SOURCE : THE VINCENTIAN