From the Courts
May 13, 2016
Fancy man jailed for five years on gun, ammo charges

In light of the recent wave of gun related crimes that has plagued St Vincent and the Grenadines, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias, on Wednesday, sent a strong message to the public by sentencing a Fancy man to five years imprisonment.{{more}}

Following a two-day trial, Ozzie Bowens, a 30-year-old farmer, was served the lengthy jail term after he was found guilty of possession of a .380 semi-automatic Glock pistol and one round of .380 ammunition, without a licence.

During the trial, Bowens and his legal counsel Israel Bruce held that the firearm was planted on him after three Rapid Response Unit (RRU)officers, who were in pursuit, subdued him.

According to Bowens, he was at an abandoned house when he heard the shout “police!” Knowing he had cannabis in his possession, Bowens said he ran, but was caught shortly after and beaten by the RRU officers, who later brought the firearm to him, claiming it was his.

However, while giving evidence, the police officers held that Bowens was seen throwing a bag into some nearby bushes while running. When officers recovered the bag, they discovered the silver firearm inside.

Bowens strongly denied this, stating that he wore his bag even after being subdued.

Unfortunately, Bowens and his lawyer were unable to convince the chief magistrate, who stated that based on the evidence given to the court, she believed that he was in fact in possession of the weapon.

During mitigation, Bruce outlined that Bowens co-operated with police, although he did not give a statement, which is within his legal rights.

Bruce further outlined that his client is a virgin to the law, adding that Bowens’ demeanour throughout the trial was that of a humble man.

He, however, stated that he is aware that there is an issue in the country with regard to illegal firearms, adding that he understood that a custodial sentence is in order, Bruce then begged the court to not to be too harsh to his client.

Senior prosecutor Adolphus Delpesche agreed that Bowens had no previous convictions; he, however, stated the court must consider the current issues in St Vincent and the Grenadines as it relates to firearms.

He added that the court must send a strong message to the public that these acts must not be tolerated, before suggesting a custodial sentence of four-and-a-half years.

The chief magistrate credited Bowens for not appearing before the court before, also stating that she has observed his demeanour.

However, she stressed that she must take into consideration the number of gun related crimes that have occurred recently, adding that the key purpose of her sentence is that of deterrence and prevention.

Bowens was sentenced to five years in prison for the illegal firearm and two months for the ammunition.

The sentences run concurrently.

A confiscation order was made on the weapon. (AS)