Zian Ashton
From the Courts
August 16, 2019
‘Trigger happy’ teen celebrates birthday with gun and mask

A “trigger happy” teen chose to celebrate his 19th birthday with a gun, clown mask, screwdriver, tam and long sleeved black t-shirt last Friday, in an area with increased armed robberies.
Zian Ashton will be contemplating this decision for the next three prison years, as this is the sentence that he received from Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett for the offence of illegal possession of a .22 revolver.

For Ashton’s further charges of possession of three rounds of .22 bullets, and his being equipped to commit an offence to wit theft, he was sentenced to nine months and one year incarceration respectively. These will run simultaneously to the young prisoner’s sentence of three years.

The teen was caught on Friday, August 9, at 1:45 am by police officers from the Calliaqua police station who were patrolling the Arnos Vale area. Corporal 286 Derby spotted Ashton, who was wearing a tam that was partially covering his face, and who had a backpack on his back. Walking next to the young man was another male individual. The police stopped and searched Ashton, and his bag. The backpack was found to contain a clown mask, a black long sleeved shirt, and a black handled screwdriver. The revolver fell from his waist, and was discovered to contain three bullets inside its chamber.

The statement the defendant gave to the police after being taken into custody was that he had found the weapon under a mango tree, near to a garage. He said he never told anyone about it, and that he just kept it. He also claimed that he “never fire it off.”

When Ashton was asked why he was on the road minutes to two in the morning, he said he was starting to celebrate his birthday, and he was born on August 9, 2000. When his clown mask was shown, he commented, “I wear that Carnival.”

As for the long sleeved shirt, this was for him to change into when he got cold.

He chose to tote the illegal weapon because, “I been feel trigger happy in the night.”

The judge asked the youth whether he read the newspapers, or knew the court’s attitude to persons caught with illegal weapons. “Nah really,” was the straightforward answer.

“You don’t know that there is a firearm problem in St Vincent, where young men choose to have them or to use them…don’t know that?,” the magistrate asked him.

Dr Linton Lewis, one of the lawyers at the bar, was engaged by the court to weigh in on the issue, and he admitted that he (Lewis) found it difficult to understand the defendant’s actions.

Further the lawyer was a bit concerned following Ashton’s declaration that he was trigger happy on the night.

“If you’re trigger happy that night, all someone had to do was to pass you at the wrong time and say the wrong thing,” Lewis said. After having a drink or two, “It puts your mind in a different realm and then you’re easily provoked and anything could have happened,” the attorney continued.

Even though the teen had had a difficult life, Lewis commented that this did not mean that he (Ashton) should be involved in any serious offence.

The 19-year-old had earlier been asked by the magistrate about his schooling. Ashton explained that he dropped out of school in form three to go live with his father. Prior to this, he said, he had been working on the weekends to support himself, and was living alone.

Lewis opined that the youth should undergo some counselling while in prison.

Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche told the court that he was on the same wavelength as Lewis, and could not fathom why Ashton was in the position he was in, with all of those items, at that time. Delplesche lightly mentioned that when he celebrated his 19th birthday he was at the Regional Police training school, and drank juice.

“Your honour, the police in Calliaqua have informed me that there has been an upsurge in armed robberies,” in the area of Arnos Vale and this is why they were patrolling, the prosecutor revealed.

“You were going to celebrate your birthday, but you have a loaded firearm, not having a license for it, you have a clown mask…you have a screw driver,” he noted, and stated that these were serious aggravating features.

The prosecutor suggested a custodial sentence of 2 and a half to three and a half years.

The senior magistrate stated that there was a firearm situation in St Vincent and the Grenadines, and therefore a message needs to be sent.

“You’re a young man, I hope when you go to prison that you would make an effort to change your life, and when you come back out you would follow a different path, but for now you have to go to prison,” he said.

The defendant who appeared meek throughout, ground his teeth as he stepped off the dock.