From the Courts
June 10, 2016
Businessman fined $5,000 for ammo possession

On Tuesday, at the Serious Offences Court, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias fined Andrew French $5,000 for possession of 10 rounds of unlicensed .380mm ammunition.{{more}}

The rounds of ammunition were found at French’s residence in Sharpesdale in a grey safe on May 13, 2016, when a team of police officers from the Major Crime Unit conducted a search for guns, ammunition, jewelry and money.

French, who had initially claimed that he found the ammunition at the shooting range at Arnos Vale, maintained this claim in court on Tuesday when he was allowed to give evidence.

When he took the stand, French said it was his intention to show the ammunition to the range instructor, but forgot that the bullets were in his vehicle, before carrying them home and placing them in his safe.

Roderick Jones, who represented French, described the matter as a “waste of the court’s time and resources.” The defence lawyer argued that the rounds of .380mm ammunition found in French’s possession could fit into and be fired comfortably from French’s licensed 9 mm pistol.

“Is it enough to prosecute a person who is a licensed firearm holder when he has in his possession ammunition that can arguably fit into his 9 mm gun?” Jones asked.

He also raised the issue of French’s cooperation with the police as the general manager at Cashwiz and pleaded with Browne-Matthias to take that into consideration when sentencing French.

Browne-Matthias cited the Firearms Act, which stipulates the type of firearm and ammunition that a licensed holder of a firearm is permitted to have in his possession.

She also referred to Section 15 of the Act, which provides exemptions for the possession of firearms and ammunition without a licence or permit.

She noted that French did not fall into any of the exemption categories which would have allowed him have a firearm or ammunition without a licence for only seven days.

French said that he had the ammunition in his possession for about two months.

He was found guilty and admitted that he should have handed the ammunition over to the police.

According to the Firearms Act of St Vincent and the Grenadines, such an offence carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment, a fine not exceeding $20,000, or both. However, in her sentencing, Browne-Matthias said: “I do not think these circumstances merit a custodial sentence at all.”

The prosecution agreed with Browne-Matthias and a fine of $5,000, to be paid by September 1, 2016, was imposed, along with a confiscation order for the ammunition.

Two witnesses also took the stand on Tuesday. They were Corporal Richardson and Sergeant Alexander.(CA)