Gun was for my protection – Francois
From the Courts
February 19, 2013
Gun was for my protection – Francois

Orland Francois said he only wanted to protect himself and provide for his family when police caught him with an AK 47 assault rifle, a 12 gauge shotgun and two rounds of 12 gauge ammunition.{{more}}

Francois, a 53 year-old farmer of Chateaubelair, appeared at the Serious Offences Court yesterday and pleaded guilty to possession of the guns and ammunition.

He was also jointly charged with Rosnel Jack of Victoria Village for possession of 1,816 grams of cannabis on February 15, 2013 at Morne Ronde mountain.

He pleaded guilty to that charge, while Jack pleaded not guilty and the charge was withdrawn against him.

In his explanation to the court, Francois, a father of six, said, “one morning I was going to Morne Ronde in July when I see this gun (AK 47), and as I find it in the water, I carry it to Morne Ronde and I tried to clean it up with some old oil, WD40 and sandpaper…”

Francois said he found the gun at Richmond Bay and carried it by his shack in the mountains.

“When I check, I didn’t have no shots for it and I been thinking of selling it,” he said.

For the shotgun, Francois admitted to owning that gun and noted that he swapped 10 pounds of marijuana for it.

“… I plant all kinda thing. A little sweet pepper, yams, a little marijuana. I swap 10 pounds of weed for the shotgun and had it for security. I get the two rounds with the gun at the time,” Francois explained.

Asked why he thought he needed protection, Francois said, “on the other side of the ridge, there is more cultivation of marijuana. Some fellas went up there and murdered two marijuana farmers and I say, if I dey up there someone will come and murder me for my marijuana. And I say, if I have my shotgun, it will keep someone from taking my marijuana away.”

Police officers on patrol of Morne Ronde on February 15 went to Francois’ shack and met him lying on a bunk with the shotgun beside him. A further search of the shack found the AK 47 rifle hidden in the rafters of the shack.

Chief Magistrate Sonya Young asked if his job was to cultivate marijuana and other crops and Francois replied “Yes, my honour.

“If I had a little money, I would finish away with this marijuana thing entirely, because I find it getting more harassing than anything else. Ma’am, anyway you could have some leniency on me?” Francois pleaded.

Magistrate Young, who said she will pray before sentencing Francois, told him that he knew he had six children and a wife before he went up to the mountains to plant marijuana and was in possession of the guns.

“You had your shotgun with you. You had the AK 47 hidden in the rafters. You knew it was not a regular gun. I am going to put you in the prisons for a while…. I will pray before I sentence, because I want to be fair with you,” the magistrate said.

Young said she did not believe that Francois is a “bad man” and said he appears to be a hard working man.

“When I consider being fair with you, I consider how fair you were with the society. I am not going to go up and plant marijuana in the mountains for my son. I want to show him something better. I want to show him we can work legally for what we want. I can tell you, I am going to put you in the prison for a while. What is happening in St Vincent is scary. Having six kids is a blessing. I can see you know hard work….,” Young added.

Francois replied, “I tell the police I am sorry. I do a bad thing and I have to bear it.”

A police officer, who is a ballistics expert, told the court that the AK 47 can hold a capacity 31 rounds of ammunition and fire up to 600 rounds per minute.

Francois will be sentenced today, Tuesday. (KW)